Somewhere in the slight of hand known as politics is the quiet little voice of truth asking a simple yet profoundly important question.
Should we be the keepers of our brothers?
At the onset of this discussion we seem to all have a similar position.
I don't want to be kept - and I sure as hell don't have the time, money or desire to keep someone else.
As I add to my collection of years and experiences, I start to see that we are less the billions of individuals and more the billions of parts of one individual.
If you'll allow a John Lennon quote:
"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together."
The choice of whether or not to keep one's brother is, at best an illusion, and at worst a blatant fallacy.
The more frightening truth is that we are all, in fact, already being kept by each other ...and quite beyond the ability to admit it.
Let's work it out in a word problem;
Rachel calls Steve at 3:30 am asking him to cover for her at work tomorrow because she is "sick". Steve notices how Rachel always seems to get "sick" right after payday. As a matter of fact, Rachel has been "sick" 5 times in the last 8 weeks.
Question: What should Steve do?
For the purpose of discussion, let's say that Steve avoids conflict with Rachel and takes the subject directly to his boss. As it turns out, there have been a few other issues with Rachel and upon further investigation it is discovered that Rachel has, for whatever reason, developed a nasty methamphetamine addiction.
Question: What action should the boss take?
Once again we will assume for the sake of continued discussion that Rachel is fired.
Now she is unemployed, has poor references that prevent her from being hired and a raging drug habit to keep her company.
Question: From a statistical standpoint, is Rachel more or less likely to commit a crime under these circumstances?
At this point we pause in the discussion of Rachel and think about the number of prisons in America that are stuffed full of drug related offenders.
Question: (True or False) Americans could solve more of their problems if they spent more money on prisons and less on schools, roads and energy.
*Note: Shifting the discussion to Governmental Pork or the Iraq War is considered cheating and therefore gives us just cause to flame you and attack you with Spam ...and various other canned meats.
Let's skip ahead 28 months and check in with Rachel.
Rachel has decided that she is going to turn things around and get her life back. She is granted parole and finds work in a restaurant kitchen. Along with her new outlook on life, Rachel also picked up Hepatitis A while she was in prison.
Question: You see where this is going don't you?
Assuming that Steve never ate in Rachel's restaurant...
Steve has already paid taxes to have Rachel arrested, tried and imprisoned. He has paid taxes for a parole officer and a rehabilitation program. As a final insult, Rachel's low wage job does not have health care benefits. In the interest of disease control, Steve's medicare will now be covering Rachel's stay in the hospital.
I happen to be a big fan of smaller government and lower taxes.
So let's help Steve save some money.
Who do we cut out of the equation?
1. The police
2. The courts
3. The prison
4. The parole officer / rehab program
Cutting any one of these will hurt Steve more than it will help him.
It is in Steve's best interest to look out for Rachel. If he doesn't, she's going to raise his taxes and lower his property values.
If Rachel cared about Steve...and everyone else in her community, she would have avoided the drugs in the first place.
As a matter of fact, it probably wouldn't be far off the mark to suggest that Rachel started taking the drugs because she felt like nobody really cared about her and her actions were meaningless in the eyes of the world.
As far as I can tell, the best thing I can do for myself is to care about what happens to you.
I'm not talking about legislating behavior and morality.
History has shown few things to be less effective.
All human beings are born with a limitless capacity for love and forgiveness.
While we may put up walls, windows and doors in that space to make it less intimidating...the infinite amount of space remains.
So, yes...it is possible for me to be my brother's keeper.
It may be in my best interest to be my brother's keeper.
I might even find a way to allow myself to be kept by my brother.
Is it even possible to reject this relationship with every man woman and child on Earth?
Everyone's life has an effect on mine - and mine on theirs - no matter how opposed I am to the fact.
Don't the drug dealers only screw with my taxes and property values - because I let them?
Sober still people outnumber addicts by a pretty good margin don't they?
The strength of the American fighting forces lies in their devotion to each other.
Take the Marine Corps for example. "Semper Fi" does not translate into "Me First".
Our founding fathers wrote:
WE the people of the UNITED STATES in order to form a more perfect UNION...
...WE hold these truths to be self evident, that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
because they knew we were at our best when we stood together as ONE NATION, INDIVISIBLE with Liberty and Justice FOR ALL.
*NOTE: If you feel the need to rant about the words under God being left out of the preceding...you've missed the point. You don't have to believe in God or Allah or the FSM to be an American. The Under God argument only serves to divide us and thus weaken us as a nation, Brother.
For The Record:
I want my tax money back.
I want my professional athletes back.
I want my community back.
I want my country back.
I want my brothers back.
Because from now on, I intend to keep them.
--unrelated side note--- new podcast is up (finally)