Am I My Brother's Keeper?
Updated: Jan 17, 2021
Could any phrase be in more need of rest than "this is unprecedented"? Yet, we seem to have set a new. January 6th will undoubtedly, be a stain in U.S. history. Should it surprise us?
While some are quick to rush judgment, casting blame to the individual(s) we see as responsible, others may have lost hope; in disbelieving wonderment, "How'd we get here?"
I can't shake the feeling that we all share some level of accountability for this world. As I type this, I feel trapped by my own logic... hang in there while I try to explain.
2020 is an exhibit of unaddressed frustration and fear, which when unresolved, results in "aggression". (Quoting intended to inspire thought about perspective)
Some (often me) will blame Donald Trump; declaring him responsible for the clear division amongst the American people. If I challenge myself, that's too simple an explanation and in truth, gives one person too much power over another, stripping us all of individual accountability.
The anger was always there, just under the surface.
Some (again, often me), will declare the behavior of Trump supporters, racist and again, if I challenge myself, that's too simple a declaration.
As I watched protests of the Spring and Summer '20, well as the invasion of the Capitol, I saw differences, but I also saw similarities of all participants.
I see the 24 hours news channel interviews; dramatic, steering questioning of an already amped person, but there's no denying -the "right" questions aren't asked.
Why do you fear? If someone asked me, would I respond with bravado and pride; would I even give sincere thought to the question?
In my circles, tough conversations these days typically go like this:
Someone shares an idea or opinion different than mine, the look on my face (or a sent meme) says it all and I'll reply w/some "enlightened" scoffing response, which of course sends the sharer into full on defense at their receiving of my self-importance. In turn, I receive their defensive posture as aggression... down the spiral we go and this conversation typically ends with me calling the person an idiot or a racist (under my breath of course). Likewise, I'm sure the sharer has some words for me and my false superiority.
The division grows. Man did I blow it, we each leave the conversation reinforcing our false beliefs about the other, frustrated that we couldn't convince them that our position is the "right" one.. never praying to understand the other.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17
Jesus, a master of persuasion did not do so with coercion or force, rather through a sincere, interested engagement of all he encountered. I'm no Doctor and can only speak for myself, but, don't we feel more open to the ideas of others, when we feel we're being listened to?
I believe that Jesus' question over answer style is meant to inspire thought. He urges us to think about what we hear, before we speak. Listening to more than the words (with our mouth agape, as if a speaker's pause is the starting bell of our race), also why the person thinks or feels as they do. -what experiences led them here; in other words, their perspective.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." -Matthew 7:1-5
A brother of mine says "If you're talkin', you ain't learnin'". -Oscar Taylor
I asked another brother of mine to proof this writing, his notes are inspiring. Though I didn't take them all, he did invoke new ideas. -Am I a hypocrite? Earlier, I dropped a line about perspective. I then continue by asking you listen to one another, embracing the idea that we're different; each having unique, sometimes difficult to articulate opinions.
Have I claimed to have all the answers? I don't think so, Lord knows I don't -as shared above, I screw this up more often than I get it right. God is crafty, he's shows me the error of my ways, usually a day or so later. I love it; the lessons are often gentle, like you would teach a child, giving me that a-ha moment. I digress,
God is great, everyday!
At any rate, I'm merely sharing with you my perspective.
My brother and proofreader, tells me "Everyone is a Buddha" -meaning everyone can you teach you something. The key is being open to receiving. Thanks Brandon.
As it goes, we sharpen one another through a mutual respect (acknowledgement of your unique perspective, more so when I don't agree), caring, understanding for our brothers and sisters, even in our differing opinions of worldly events... which are sure to pass.
Bad things exist in this world such is undeniable. I pray for God to grant me the compassion and patience to recognize the good in all humanity, strengthening my faith in his creation and steering me from my manly ways of focusing on the misdeeds of others.
Black Lives Matter, as do all. White folks, please stop saying this when asked to recognize the movement and consider what's being said. Black folks aren't declaring superiority, merely seeking equality. Why do we see it as a slight of our own suffering when another asks for help? Jesus gave his life for all of us, never asking, "What about me?"
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” -Luke 23:34
He endured and died, not solely to wash away our sins, but I believe to serve as a model of who he wants us to be.
Black folks, please stop casting all white folks who don't embrace the movement as racist. -in many cases they are unknowingly fearful, I contend of socio-economic equality. Do some of you not cast the same shadow on Haitians, Hispanics, Asians or Indians?
Hispanics, Asians, Indians, you're in this with us. Do you not subdivide or declare caste amongst your people?
Are we all not the same in the eyes of the Lord?
White folks, we must admit our holding onto the idea of worldly superiority... privilege and entitlement, though we don't call it that. We have this idea that we belong to the elite caste, merely because we share a skin tone. Most of us don't, never will and in most cases better identify with our black and brown brothers and sisters. Why do we fear someone who doesn't look like us, reaching "our" plateau?
For each of us its a matter of worldly relativity. If I have this "thing", then you get the "thing", I need another "thing". As Eric B said, "I come correct, and I won't look back 'Cause it ain't where you're from, it's where you're at". -and the cycle repeats, in all of us.
I liken us to the scene in World War Z, where the infected zombies are climbing over one another to reach the top of the wall.
In some cases, we'd step on each other to reach our individual goals, conversely, look what can be accomplished when we uplift one another... okay, enough dark metaphors.
The point is, we're all fighting for the same thing, perceived attainment of some worldly thing, we see as above us. I contend that another eatin' does not mean I go hungry; there's always room at the table for one more.
Thankfully, God has a plan.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” -Ephesians 4:29
Where we fall from grace, is in the idea that to gain or maintain my station, I must keep you down. The competitive notion that abundance is scarce, defies God.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:25-34
God will provide, for many of us it sounds foreign, due to our perspective.
God wants you to prosper, in doing so, he wants you to help others do the same.
This starts with you.
Those who prosper from our fear, strive to establish ideas of scarcity and division amongst the people.
Consider this, your favorite news network beginning the 5am broadcast with: "Its a beautiful day. So get out there, be a good neighbor, lift someone up and enjoy this blessed day!"
Would you continue watching, fearful of the next drama intended to consume your thoughts and funds?
"Many people who order their lives rightly in all other ways are kept in poverty by their lack of gratitude. Having received one gift from God, they cut the wires which connect them with Him by failing to make acknowledgment."
"The law of gratitude is the natural principle that action and reaction are always equal, and in opposite directions.
The grateful outreaching of your mind in thankful praise to the Supreme is a liberation or expenditure of force; it cannot fail to reach that to which it addressed, and the reaction is an instantaneous movement towards you.
"Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you." That is a statement of psychological truth.
And if your gratitude is strong and constant, the reaction in Formless Substance will be strong and continuous; the movement of the things you want will be always toward you. Notice the grateful attitude that Jesus took; how He always seems to be saying, "I thank Thee, Father, that Thou hearest me." You cannot exercise much power without gratitude; for it is gratitude that keeps you connected with Power.
But the value of gratitude does not consist solely in getting you more blessings in the future. Without gratitude you cannot long keep from dissatisfied thought regarding things as they are.
The moment you permit your mind to dwell with dissatisfaction upon things as they are, you begin to lose ground. You fix attention upon the common, the ordinary, the poor, and the squalid and mean; and your mind takes the form of these things. Then you will transmit these forms or mental images to the Formless, and the common, the poor, the squalid, and mean will come to you.
To permit your mind to dwell upon the inferior is to become inferior and to surround yourself with inferior things." -Wallace D Wattles
Our greatest show of gratitude to God is by valuing all of his children. I should do what I can to help them in their time of need, trusting that they will do the same for me. I should give thanks for each given opportunity to serve. God blesses us daily and wants us to share with those in need. In the end God will provide, eliminating any need to cast another beneath me.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.“ -Thessalonians -5:11
Dear Lord, we thank you for this day and opportunities to speak with one another. Help us to set aside ego and fear for the betterment of all your children. Please grant us the patience to hold our tongue and judgment while we aim to understand the struggle of others. Further, help us Lord, to uplift those in need as we have faith you and your children will lift us in our time. God, help to soften hardened hearts, so that they may hear your call and do good works in your name.