EDITORIAL: Our Brother’s Keeper

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We all know the Bible story. When God asks Cain about his missing brother, Abel, Cain nonchalantly responds, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Of course, this was an unacceptable answer, because, then as now, we are our brothers’ keepers. We are responsible for each other, and we most certainly need each other.
Think, IT TAKES A VILLAGE, as so nicely put by Hillary Rodham Clinton in her 1996 book. Think, the brotherhood of man.  As John Donne that great English poet so nicely puts it in his famous poem, NO MAN IS AN ISLAND: “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” It is difficult to find truer words!
Of course, with Hurricane Irma bearing down on us as a Category 3 monster (or worse) , those words that speak to our common humanity and kinship are even more timely, and it is heartening to hear inspiring stories of altruism and brotherly concern for our neighbours, family and friends. As well it ought to be.
Indeed, as evidence of our better selves and better instincts, we can cite a good gentleman from the constituency of St. George who has selflessly offered to make his pick-up truck available to any person needing the same for deliveries of plywood and other hurricane supplies. Free of charge, we might add. And not forgetting Charles Joseph of Liberta, who made a similar offer. And the many other thousands of residents who are assisting our brothers and sisters in numerous and varied ways. This is clearly who we are as a people, and the notion that we’ll ‘sink or swim together,’ certainly reveals this nobleness of our character and spirit.
Not surprisingly, even as we watch and prepare as Irma makes her inexorable march toward us, our hearts have been dealt a blow by news of a stricken brother.
We are referring to the very distressing news that Sir Rupert ‘Mighty Swallow’ Philo has fallen ill in New York, just days after performing at the annual Labour Day celebrations in Brooklyn. We certainly wish the Mighty Sir Swallow a prompt and complete recovery from that which ails him. After all, if Sir Swallow is not well, then neither are we. As the scriptures proclaim, we ought to “Bear ye one another’s burdens . . .” And we are doing just that.
Meanwhile, even as we hold up Sir Swallow in our thoughts and prayers, we see any sort of grim irony in the fact that he was the one who gave us that immortal classic, MAN TO MAN. In that most uplifting offering, he implores us, “Help your brother, if he falling / Help your sister, if she dying / Help your neighbour if he hungry / Give him water, if he thirsty / Just remember, a good neighbour is your brother / You may need him some day later / When you feeling some depression.”  The way that we treat the most vulnerable and helpless among us is as good an indication as any as our sense of altruism and kinship. After all, we are only as strong as the weakest among us.
Having said that, let us open our hearts and homes and wallets to the indigent, the homeless, the sick and the shut-in. Let it never be said of us that we saw a need and we turned our backs. If Hurricane Irma should wreak havoc (heaven forbid) on our fair island, let the losses that we incur be only of the collateral sort. Let it never be said that a homebound brother or a blind or infirmed sister lost his or her life, because of wilful neglect on our part. We’re talking about random acts of kindness! We’re talking about the kindness of strangers! It becomes us, for we are our brothers’ keepers!
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