Not My Brother's Keeper? If Not, Then Who Is?

        Not My Brother's Keeper? If Not, Then Who Is?

September 19, 2011

You should never talk politics or religion with friends. Let me put that right out there. I have always said this but, occasionally I do not follow my own advice and, invariably, I end up losing a friend. I am not a Democrat or a Republican, or a Tea Party lunatic, or a Communist. I am a mixture. There are certain aspects of all things that I believe in. I do believe that when a person get’s into trouble in this country, it is the moral responsibility of his friends and neighbors to help him or her out. This is not a socialist doctrine, unless you consider the Marine Corps a Socialist organization. This is the way things are done in  a civilized society. If we lose our compassion and the ability to help each other, then we lose our humanity. Animals do this for the injured or hurt in their packs. This is what I was brought up to do. This is what was taught to me when I was in the Marine Corps. This is what being a good Union member taught me during my career. Always support a union brother or sister. We not only talked this; we practiced it when one of our brothers or sisters were wrongfully suspended or terminated. Every union member gave cash each week to support those who had no income. This is what we did for each other in the Marine Corps. We supported each other. No Marine was ever broke as long as one of his comrades had cash. No Marine was left on a battlefield alone. No one was ever left behind.
  I am telling you all this because I had a friend who I recently found out would not lift a finger for another human being. Not even a friend. We were discussing the fires in Texas and how Governor Perry had cut funding to volunteer firefighters in the state. This ‘friend’ said “Who are you going to vote for then? Who? There’s no more Free Money.” I mentioned that Perry had stated that he would do away with Social Security, which he called a big Ponzi scheme, and do away with Medicare. This friend went into a lecture on how social security was not meant to be a retirement fund and why was it his responsibility to pay for people who had not planned properly. I countered with how it is not always planning, but circumstances such as injuries or illness that causes people to fall into hard times. This friend then said “Why is is my responsibility to support you if you get hurt?” I asked him why he was making this personal, and he replied that he would not help fund anyone who had not planned properly, it didn’t matter if it meant that the person would not survive. He said that he could see that I was getting upset, and that we would discuss it at our next get together.  We have not exchanged a word or an email since, and as far as I am concerned, it will stay that way. 
  I didn’t write anything, or make a big deal about it at the time. I wanted to cool off, let things settle down, and look at it again when I could be less emotional. So, I have given it a few weeks. I did some thinking.. mostly about the way that I was raised, and how I have treated people through the years, and I will tell you this: If I had a friend who was in trouble, I would do anything in my power to help them. If I had a friend who was in a financial bind, I would do what I could to try to ease his problems, even if I had no hard cash to give him or her, there would always be a place at my table for them. As long as I have a roof over my head, I would see that they had one over theirs as well.
Who will help him, if we falter?
 This is not hollow talk. I practice what I preach. I had a neighbor  who was very ill. On top of it, he lost his wife, and along with it, her pension and insurance. Suddenly, he was in danger of losing his house. I invited him to have dinner with us for as long as it took to get himself on his feet again. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to get him through the tough times. He managed to re-do the mortgage on his house and, after a few months, he thanked us and was on his own again. He’s OK now, and we are still friends and from time to time he brings us a bottle of home made wine, in appreciation for helping him. This is what friends and neighbors do for each other... they help each other through the hard times, and they celebrate the good times. What they do not do is turn their backs on each other and say “it’s not my problem.” This is where society starts to break down.
After all, if we don’t help our neighbors when they stumble, who will pick us up when we fall?
  Be good to each other, take care of each other, we are all we’ve got! 


  1. What goes around comes around. Maybe not in this lifetime. We are all accountable for our actions. There are countless ways to help. What makes people the way they are? Is it something missing at the genetic level? Is it their upbringing, or their life experiences? Is it evil at work? All one can do is what they know in their heart to be right. Help when help is needed. Many people are close minded. They can't put themselves in another's place. We need to remember, "there but for the grace of God go I". Another well written piece John.

  2. Thank you, Ms. Laurie, your comments are always welcome. I thought long and hard on this before responding to the attack on my by a friend that I have know since I was a very young boy. It was hurtful, and uncalled for.


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