Thursday, July 22, 2010

Am I My Brother's Keeper; Subtitled: I am on a break!

Taking a break from soul searching, I was internet surfing and saw an article stating that a NYC medic had been shot over the weekend. The killing appears to have been over a disputed parking situation, but the headline made you wonder if the killing was revenge for when the medic had supposedly failed to help a pregnant restaurant employee who was having an asthma attack last December from which she ultimately died. Some accounts of the December situation state that the medic and his partner, allegedly, didn’t help the woman because they were on their break. Others say the medics didn’t realize how serious the situation was and simply called dispatch prior to leaving the scene. There is an ongoing investigation to determine the veracity of these statements. The reason for this blog entry is to point out the mirror and to truly inquire: how often do we ask ourselves Cain’s big question: “Am I my brother’s keeper” and how often is our response, “I am on my break.”

Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge proponent of self responsibility. I believe it is a universal law that we all must heed. And the universe, in its infinite wisdom and infinite time, allows us plenty of lessons on how and why we need to be more responsible for ourselves. But self responsibility does not leave out the possibility for compassion for others.

Obviously, in the Genesis Bible verse, Cain is asking his question because he doesn’t want to admit that he had anything to do with Abel’s disappearance. So – again, the same mirror applies…how often do we have a hand in creating the situation we see, (maybe not quite so completely as Cain’s), but we are avoiding taking any responsibility for the situation. “I am on my break.”

Do we look at the Gulf Oil Spill and think it is only BP’s fault? Do we give a thought to the oil workers and the Gulf coast residents who are affected by lack of work and not see our shared responsibility in their plight? Would we feel differently if we lived on the coast or had family who lived on the coast? “Oh, I would help more if I had family on the coast.” Would we feel more compassion is our immediate family members were affected?

Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. The question isn’t “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The question is “Am I my brother?” The solution to every challenge would be much different if instead of “I will help because it is my family,” or “I will help because it was a natural disaster,” we say, “I will help because I am one with my brother.”

It is hard for many of us to imagine that we might ever be in a situation where we will need help from our brother. Or maybe I should say…until about 2 years ago, it was hard for many of us to imagine we might need help from another, from the government, from a bailout. Now, more people not only imagine, but offer thanks daily for the help they have received. And yes, we as individuals, as a society and as global inhabitants need to step into fully understanding self responsibility and self reliability. However, the same question can offer us the solution to self responsibility, too. “Am I my brother?”

If I am the person who appears down trodden at a given moment and someone else is acting as though they are one with me, my subsequent actions will reflect my gratitude, love and desire to pull for the common good.

Divisiveness never leads to compassion or responsibility. It leads to more entrenched and extreme ideas and actions. Remembering that I am part and parcel of Mother Earth will lead me to the correct solution for me, for my brother and for ALL.

OK – Break’s over!