I’m my brother’s keeper, and my brother keeps me

After murdering his brother, God asks Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

Cain responds, “I don’t know.”

Cain then turns his feigned oblivion into a universal question; a question asked by families, generations and nations of people throughout the course of history.

In Genesis 4:9, Cain asks God,

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Perhaps both Cain’s and God’s questions were rhetorical, with both parties already knowing the answers to what they’d ask. But by giving voice to their inquiries, these questions have transcended time and been placed at the core of global inequality  today, January 23, 2017.

Last week I participated in UCO’s 7th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. oratory competition. I composed an oration around the following quote by Dr. King:

“We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.”

In my speech, I focused on the power of words in creating and maintaining social change. I spoke on how discrimination, prejudice and inequality are perpetuated through words and silence that denotes agreement. Hands down this was the most emotionally driven and passionate speech I have given, and I won first place.

But today, I found more meaning in Dr. King’s quote. I found meaning and life application in the word “brothers”.

Thing is, I’m an only child, but I have grown up with first cousins who are essentially my siblings in every way but biologically.

Pictured below are Terrell, Molly and I during one of our rare moments of photogenic camaraderie.

Age wise, I’m in the middle. My cousin Terrell is two years and two days older than me, while my cousin Kendra (lovingly known as Molly) is ten months younger than me. Our close proximity has served as fertile ground for innumerable fights in our childhood, but has also bred an inexplicable and unquantifiable love.

A love that overlooks differences in spirituality, familial roles, political ideologies, mistakes and occasionally ignorance.

Dr. King’s quote explains the love I have for my cousin/siblings. It is not perfect, not always expressed and it is frequently misinterpreted, but it is there! There is nothing Molly or Terrell could do to diminish the love I have for them. My love exists simply because they are who they are.

Loving people as they are is exactly what God, and Dr. King intended. That doesn’t mean agreeing everything someone does, it simply means accepting who they are.

 

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