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Friday, July 31, 2015

My Brother’s Keeper

My Brother’s Keeper

  • A saying from the Bible's story of Cain and Abel. After Cain had murdered his brother Abel, God asked him where his brother was. Cain answered, “I know not; am I my brother's keeper?” 

  • Important to many Christians is the idea that we are all our brothers' keepers - usually taken to mean that we have some responsibility to watch out for and care for one another.

If you like I and many others of this age group were brought up with love and strict discipline, then you entered into the world of adulthood with great values built in.  When my mother told me that I didn’t have her permission to do something or go somewhere (even if I thought she would never find out if I disobeyed), I wouldn’t do it.  My rationale for not doing it, was that I knew that if I disobeyed and got caught, whatever punishment I received would not be as painful as knowing that my disobedience would break her heart.  I didn’t fear her, I respected and loved her.

Amongst the many values that she instilled in me probably the most important was that we took care of our own.  If a family member fell on hard times, it was first and foremost up to the family to come to the rescue.  If the immediate family’s resources or efforts weren’t sufficient you reached out to the next level of family for assistance (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents).  Failing with that effort, your next step was the church, and your very last resort would be the government.  We were always required to settle things at the lowest level possible (family first).

We were always ready to lend a helping hand to our neighbors, but were not allowed to go to them with our problems.  If a family member, God forbid, ended up on public assistance, it was considered a shame for the rest of the family.  If for no other reason, our failure to rescue our own.

While late in my forties I entertained the idea of running for public office after retirement.  My platform was going to be strengthening the family unit.  My reasoning was that if every family unit was strong, who would remain roaming the streets causing trouble.  Since that time, I’ve decided to keep my family unit strong and encourage friends and extended family members to implement my original plan.  I was afraid to get so involved in saving the world, that I might do damage to the most important thing in my life (my family).

When we take the phrase “My Brother’s Keeper,” and take it to mean all of human kind, it becomes such an overwhelming task that even mega wealthy people like Bill Gates can’t measure up to the task.  There are many other ways that we can follow diligently to full fill the commitment to be My Brother’s Keeper in the broader spectrum.  Just as we turn to our church before we turn to government, we can pay our monthly tithe to our church so they can help others.  Although I also pay my taxes diligently, I have little faith that my tax dollars will be used wisely.  Recent statistic show that there is more poverty and need today than twenty years ago, so much work and commitment is needed.

Don’t let your guard down on your own family unit, but keep up the effort and don’t give up against overwhelming odds.  The best is yet to come…..

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