Thursday, 25 December 2008

Brother's Keeper Reality

Yesterday, President-elect Obama laid out a Christmas message to folks, which revolved around being your "Brother's Keeper". Its a theme he tossed out in October as part of the election episode, and he still continues the message.

Its a nifty phrase and always agreeable to Bible-carrying folks. No true minister can make it through an entire year without some kind of sermon on being your brother's keeper. Its a great sell and makes folks feel good at the conclusion. In real life, they might actually practice this to some degree....with or without the mention by the minister or the President-elect. The problem is....they often fail the reality test involved.

When your cousin Carly calls and says she's really doped up and needs someone to listen to her screwed-up life speech for the fifteenth time....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your brother Elwood calls and he's been arrested for hitting his wife and burning her car in the front yard....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your mother calls and admits that she's forty thousand dollars in debt to credit card bills and needs you to help her clear them....so she can leave the family home to your two sisters.....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your 19-year old son has been arrested for his fourth time on a DWI.....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your sister calls and announces that husband has bankrupted her family and she needs you to loan them $50k to help fix up their credit situation....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your old buddy from high school calls and says that his wife, his girlfriend, and his 20-year old something at the office are all pregnant at the same time and he needs to borrow money.....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your minister shows up at the house and says that the church is not a 4-star place of worship and he needs each member to sign up for a $2000 donation over the next twelve months to build the right kind of temple for worship.....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your daughter calls and says that she is marrying some guy who is permanently unemployable and she needs you to help sponsor her lifestyle for the next forty years....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When the government says that its moral tone for the next couple of years....is this "Brother's Keeper" mentality....I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. Rescue from a burning wooden bridge is a one-time deal. I'll pull you off the bridge, but the bridge is pretty much burnt up at the end. We don't need to revisit the bridge or consider this a permanent everlasting burning bridge (there just isn't such a thing). You get a helping hand and then I'm finished with this situation.

I had an associate years ago who agreed to take in his sister and her family for what was going to be a 60-day period....till she got back up on her feet after dumping the husband. The guy and his wife went out of their way....making basic comforts for the sister and her kids. They asked for no money for the food or lodging...this was merely part of the being the "Brother's Keeper".

By the halfway point, the sister was bound and determined to return to the abusive husband. He began to get back into her life and trigger various negative events. As much as this associate of mine tried to talk to the sister....it just didn't matter. She couldn't bring herself to move on....to get a job.....to find a place....or to dump the husband. She just wanted to continue on with her trend.

At 90 days, she was still in the house, with nothing improving. At 120 days, she was still there. Around six months into this episode....with no job and this continual hope of returning to the husband....my associate volunteered for remote duty....just to trigger a event to get the family out of this mess. Three months later, he left for his one-year of remote duty, and his wife packed up to go back to her family for twelve months. The sister just stood there....asking what would she do next? He couldn't answer that. After nine months of trying to move her on....it just wasn't going to work. Being the "Brother's Keeper".....was a failure.

I don't want to say this is all a joke, because there are cases where you can make a difference and change the paths of people who have fallen. But those who are destined to fall over and over.....makes me question the logic of Brother's Keeper and just well it actually works.

My two cents of analysis and pondering for today

A Christmas Moment


Christmas has arrived yet again, number fifty for me....but who is counting?

I am a three thousand miles away from Christmas reality. No matter what I do here in Germany....the memories are in Bama. I can never escape that anchor that I drag around with me.

About half the folks that I engage in this topic of conversation admit that no adult Christmas ever measures up to those in their youth.....for odd reasons.

Some folks remember the hunt for the tree and cutting it down. Some folks remember helping older relatives put the tree and the lights, then being rewarded with various cookies and delights. Some remember the local choir they were a member of. Some remember the fireplace and the ornaments around it.

So today, I'll sit down and make the best Christmas possible out of the deal....although I know it won't compare. I'll have goose and dumplings, with plenty of cake and coffee. I'll get a gift or two and be satisfied with the holiday by tonight.

So I'm wishing all that read my blog and have a moment of reflection....a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year. Life is damn short, and you need to enjoy the moments you have. Don't look upon this as simply another holiday....but a moment when you are allowed to get pumped up and full of glee. You worked hard all year, and you deserve it.