After Cain had murdered his brother Abel, God asked him where his brother was. Cain answered, “I know not; am I my brother's keeper?” Cain's words have come to symbolize an unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of others — “brothers” in the extended sense of the term. The tradition of Judaism and Christianity is that we all have this responsibility. It is easy to forget that -- I am disconcerted that I often do:
I was talking to a young man earlier today -- a security guard.
He said, "it's been a sad week". I agreed, mainly out of politeness -- and he went on to talk about the Scarborough shooting and the three shootings in Toronto last night.
Again, more out of politeness than anything I commented there was clearly a gang war.
Now, I thought, but did not say, such wars do not really affect me. I am not at the places where the shootings occur (except the Eaton Centre) or, usually, out at the times they usually occur. Yes, I meet gang members, but almost always in jail and their world does not seem to intersect mine.
But, after I mentioned to the security guard how sad the death of the teen was he said "yes, she was my friend's niece".
Everyone is someone's child, parent, brother or sister. They aren't foreigners, sub-humans, strangers -- they are our brothers and sisters. Easy to forget but true.