Recent events in the United States have prompted me to write this.
It seems that we have lost something—though at 23 years of age, I’m not entirely sure we ever had it to begin with.
What have we lost? Our humanity? Our sanity? Is it our minds or our hearts that we lost somewhere along this dusty road of life?
I don’t know why the world is like this. All I can say (with full confidence) is that it starts with us. It is the responsibility of each and every human being to change the world for the better, and the more responsible we feel about this, the more likely we are to have a lasting impact.
In the Bible, God asks Cain where his brother Abel is, to which Cain responds, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In his absence of care and consideration for his brother, and his-ever growing jealousy and spite, he eventually murders his brother and is left destitute by God. Many interpretations of the Bible consider Cain to be the originator of evil, violence, and greed.
I have been contemplating the responsibility I have for the people in my life. I am connected to other people, and that connection comes with a certain sense of duty. It is not an obligation, because it fills me with meaning and joy to care for the people in my life—particularly when they need it most.
It is the absence of this feeling of connection that drives people to violence, or to wave racist flags and shout hateful jargon. It is the absence of love in their lives that leads them to being indoctrinated into ideologies fueled by bigotry and fanaticism. They find their identity in the group, and then the doctrine of that particular group takes precedent over their own lives.
I know this may be obvious, but what is perhaps less obvious is how this phenomenon affects our own lives. We are not so different from the people in the white nationalist regime, as difficult as that might be to hear. We all feel isolated and unloved from time to time, and act out in various ways because of this.
Who hasn’t felt judged or demeaned or insulted, and then lashed out because of is? It doesn’t take that much to go wrong to be one of those racist protesters—or at least not as much as we’d like to think.
It is important to understand that the worst kind of people are—in fact—people. We also happen to be a person. In this way, we must be our brother’s keeper. And our mother’s keeper. And our neighbor’s keeper. And so on.
We are responsible for each other. We are all capable of the worst and the best. We are all angels and demons, and no one is undeserving of our understanding, no matter what offense they have committed.
Human beings have evolved largely through tribalism. This is why we cling to country, team, political group, what have you. There has been an evolutionary necessity to see others as “other,” but I am not sure that this has to be the case. At least not anymore.
I want to extend my tribe to the entire human family, and I invite you to join me in this.
Love is the reason we are here. The reason people commit acts of hate is because there is an absence of love, so everything we do is connected with love in some way or another. Let’s try to be on its good side, even when it is unimaginably difficult to do so.
There is nothing more noble than loving in the face of suffering.
The world would look differently if this was the central function of society. That may take some time to come to fruition, but we can start by using this idea in our own lives.
Point of this little rant is, we need to be our brother’s keeper, even when our brother is being a total dick. Or, let’s say, especially when our brother is being a total dick.
This attitude alone can transform the world.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Sara Karpanan