As the Biblical story goes, Cain and Abel, were the sons of the first man, Adam and his wife, Eve. While Cain was a farmer, Abel raised livestock. When the time came to make offerings to God, Cain offered some vegetables from his harvest, whereas Abel picked the best of his livestock to offer God. Pleased with Abel, God accepted his sacrifice and rejected that of Cain’s. In a jealous rage, Cain killed Abel. When God asked Cain where his brother was, he said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
In case, you are wondering why I started off with this Biblical story, it was to explain where the phrase ‘brother’s keeper’ came from.
Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
To my mind, the philosophy of being my brother’s keeper is similar to Ubuntu. There’s a story doing the rounds recently. Let me share it with you.
Today more than ever, I’m certain that we’re all called to be our brother’s keeper – to look out for one another, to have each other’s back. I can only ‘be’ because ‘we’ are.
I’m happy to say, despite all the illness, fear, death and despair, I’ve witnessed people reaching out to others like never before. People giving of their time and money, to reach out to those whose livelihoods were taken away by the lockdown. Others helping older people and those who were immunocompromised to get groceries and essentials. I read of a young woman in New Delhi who, during the lockdown, woke up at around 4 am each morning to help her Mum cook food and then set off on her scooter to deliver this to people’s homes.
When all the ordinary divides and patterns are shattered, people step up to become their brothers’ keepers. And that purposefulness and connectedness bring joy even amidst death, chaos, fear, and loss.Rebecca Solnit
But now, in India at least, the lockdowns have lifted. Things are slowly limping back to normal. But I’m afraid we’re forgetting the social solidarity we displayed in times of social distancing.
A simple question: Do you wear a mask when you are out in public?
I see so many people not bothering to do this in my city. Even worse, I read and watch videos about people coming up with outrageous reasons for not wearing a mask. I’ve seen videos of people who’ve been asked to put on their masks deliberately spitting in the face of those making that request!
Wearing a mask is a simple, deliberate act of caring for others. We must work from the assumption that there is always someone vulnerable around us and take necessary steps to protect ourselves and others.
In case you need convincing about why a mask is necessary, let Bill Nye explain it to you!
Today, let’s recommit to keeping ourselves and others safe. Let’s be our brother’s keeper! Let’s wear our masks properly and mindfully.
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