Tag Archives: our brother’s keeper

Thought For The Day 08/25/12

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Chaos And Violence 

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http://alqatrah.net/en/edara/pic/violence.jpg

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And so, to the end of history, murder shall breed murder, always in the name of right and honor and peace, until the gods are tired of blood and create a race that can understand. 

George Bernard Shaw

“Caesar and Cleopatra”

http://quotegarden.com/violence.html

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Violence in today’s society seems to be, as sad as it may be for me to admit and us all to hear, nearly as common as is the common cold! In my recollection, I can not remember the last time I did not read in the paper or see on the TV the names of innocent people who have been struck down by the violent actions of someone or many someones who are either very disturbed or driven by the misguided belief that what they do is right. And while many times the report of victims contains but a single name, lately it seems to contain the names of multiple individuals who have been struck down. And more and more often, it seems that it is public places that are the scene of this violence. They are happening in places where we used to believe we were somehow insulated from such things touching our lives….movies, schools, churches and our workplace. We can no more prevent most of these tragedies from happening than we can crawl inside the head of the perpetrator of the violence to discover what it was that triggered the snap…and eruption of such total senselessness. We can but remain vigilant and concerned for those whose lives touch our own. And this does not require that we become heroes in the sense that heroism is generally recognized. All it means is that we be kind and caring in our dealings with others. We must be our brother’s keeper.

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We’ve all heard the phrase but do we really understand how it came to be and what it means? The phrase our brother’s keeper comes from Genesis. After Cain murders Abel, God questions him  about his brother, asking “Where is Abel thy brother?” And Cain’s response are these words, “I  know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4.9 KJV). Cain’s response has since become not just one of the most famous phrases in the Bible but it also has also become synonymous with how it is we are expected to behave towards the others who share our world with us. Did you know, for example, that the word “keeper” comes from the Hebrew word “shaw-mar” which means caretaker or custodian? It means more that one who simply acts as a baby-sitter. It implies a much higher level of responsibility such as might be rendered by a parent or other trusted nurturing figure. And indeed, that is what we must be! We must watch for those among us who are among the world’s downtrodden. We must tend to those who live in our communities. Do you have an elderly neighbor who lives alone? I know I do! Is there something we might do such as bring some fruit and a moment of our time to sit and have a cup of tea and make sure all is well? Or what about the child who seems to be crying for no reason that we can see on our street corner. Do we go to them and stop a minute and check to make sure that there is nothing seriously wrong? Or do we close our door and our hearts, to the plight of our brother? And even if we are reticent to act directly, have there been any other times when we see something that we know in our hearts, is just not right, but instead of reporting our fears to another agency such as the Police or Department of Social Services, we simply ignore the inner voice that is speaking to us? I must admit that I have been guilty of this myself. And yet, we ARE our brother’s keeper and if we do not act, who will? Is it not better to have been mistaken than it is to not have acted and have to live with a lifetime of regrets? I know I prefer the former choice because regrets become but a millstone around our necks and often affect not just our present happiness but can become barrier to enjoying our lifetime of tomorrows!

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“When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.”

Numbers 30:2 (NIV)

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