Thursday, 30 October 2008

Brother's Keeper: Bama-Style

Continuing the analysis of Obama's "brother's keeper" concept.....I sat and pondered for a good long time the effect of "brother's keeper" in Bama.

When you drive into a dry county in Bama.....you are standing in the midst of a place where folks want to be your brother's keeper. They want to ensure your welfare and health, by removing any challenge to your morales.

If I were Obama, I'd consider this a good thing....most everyone else in the state considers it an act of stupidity or Baptists hard at work.

"Brother's keeper" also works when you talk to your cousin Larry, who is the chief of the county Democratic party and arranges for a clerk's job for your niece....who barely graduated from high school and can't really work beyond the 8th grade level. Larry may act real "keeper-friendly" but the truth of the matter is that money talks. So he'll make sure your dimwitted niece gets a job for the county.

"Brother's keeper" works great when Aunt June calls and wants you to contribute to a family legal fund to help your cousin who got arrested for meth manufacturing and drug sales. She wants to get a "real" attorney to defend your cousin and get him lesser time. You originally suggest he ought to get forty years in prison....then the Aunt gets all upset, and you end up giving her a check for $300.

"Brother's keeper" is the norm in Bama when Mama calls you to help fund the headstone for your uncle who beat his wife and kids weekly, spent thousands on weekend poker trips in Memphis, and died when he drunkenly drove his SUV off a bridge. His wife was going to spend just $1500 on the stone....and mama wants a $5k stone instead....with you contributing an entire paycheck for it.

"Brother's keeper" in Bama has alot of different meanings. We all trudge through this mess and then to keep "brother's keepers" at a arm's length. We'd rather not mess with folks in need at our front door or down at the church or at the local school. If they were good friends or good relatives....we'll offer help or assistance without any discussion.....but it ought to be coming from my heart and not demanded as part of some perceived order of life or mission.

I Am My Brother's Keeper

This is the Obama quote of 2008....and may well be his presidential platform from which he wins the election.

I have a quote from Eric Hoffer that right fits the situation:

"There is always a chance that he who sets himself up as his brother's keeper will end up by being his jail-keeper."

For some reason, I just don't buy into the brother's keeper attitude. I've seen too many cases where someone felt they were justified in being the brother's keeper, and nothing worked out.

I'll give three examples:

Here on Ramstein, we had a female Major who brought her nephew into the house. The 16-year old had huge emotional issues and this single AF officer felt that living in her house....would bring discipline and fix his problems. The mother was ready to kick the kid out of the house but got talked by her sister into sending the kid over to Germany. Around the eighth week of this episode....the kid burns down the major's house.....completely. She got the call at work. There wasn't much that anyone could tell the major except she was nuts for taking this kid in. Most of the information on this kid after the fact included bi-polar and drug activity. The kid got sent back to the states after the house burning and ended up with the county authorities in the sister's home area. That was the end of being this kid's keeper. The county found someone to dump the kid on....as a keeper. I've been curious if he burned that residence as well.

In Tucson, I knew a older NCO....married with two kids. His mother at age 50 suddenly decided to ditch dad and come to live with junior. Junior really didn't intend for this being permanent. Four months later, it was well established that this was permanent. Mom required the best sheets ($100), the best steaks, and use of the family car. For this frugal guy and his wife...mom was costing a minimum of $500 a month. After six months....junior went to dad.....then found out that dad was giving mom $1000 a month....and not a penny of that was coming to junior. He didn't want to ask for money but dad offered $250 a month as expense for covering cost of mom. About two months later...mom finds out about this arrangement and goes nuts....wanting the $250 to come straight to her. Junior doesn't argue. After another six months....the family is in crisis mood. Junior ends up volunteering for Korea as an assignment....which mom figured she could stay with the wife and kids....but no, they went to the wife's family's residence for that year. Mom ended up finally leaving then....only to dump herself onto some cousin. It was the only way of getting out of being his mom's keeper.

Finally....I knew a guy who took in his cousin for six weeks.....the guy just came out of alcohol rehab. Nothing went well for the six weeks and by the end....the cousin was boozing it up big-time. The guy told the cousin to leave.....he didn't want to be his keeper any longer.

When someone says they are responsible for being their brother's keeper....they really don't want to handle anything.....they just want to pay someone to be an associate "keeper" for them.

Obama's attitude looks good on paper or as a fantasy....but the simple truth is that most of us really don't want to be a keeper for anyone.

This is a sales pitch....and its a lousy effort to make people feel "fake Christian"....you know the type....the ones who really aren't Christian but they'd like you to think they are that way.

The brother's keeper theme....it'll roll over and over and over for the entire next four years. It'll be the nightly standard. Even the comedy guys will eventually talk about "keepers" as a joke. None of this is really serious in discussion....if it were, we'd all have problems. We don't want to manage our drunk sisters, our dope-headed cousin, our whacked out nut of a mother, our crazed uncle Joe from the Nam war, our bi-polar brother, or our constantly jealous aunt who can't say nothing nice about anyone.

We aren't good keepers....in any fashion. We don't want to keep anyone when you get down to the bottom line. So, when Obama comes to your door and talks of "keepers"...think for a minute about what he is referring to....and the wisdom of this man. If he were a "keeper"....he quit within days....and I'm guessing he's never practiced a day of what he's preached.