September 12, 2011
Am I My Brother's Keeper?
Christians and Jews from Union Seminary and JTS gathered this afternoon inside a sun lit chapel on the Upper West Side to mark 9/12. 9/11 is already in our vocabulary, said JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen, who opened the ritual – It's time to work on 9/12 – the day after – the day of moving forward and healing the wounds. We are our brothers' keepers.
From back in time the hurt is hurling back at us – the first human question in the Bible – Am I My Brother's Keeper? Cain, the first killer, the first to be mortally wounded by lack of love, is watching the blood of his brother Abel spill on the earth. In response to God's question – what have you done – he recoils from responsibility – I'm no body's keeper.
But yes, he is. And yes, we are.
And most of us, like Cain are finding it hard, so hard, to rise up to the challenge of responsibility for another, for the other, not just the ones we love – but also for the ones we don't. Often our actual siblings, flesh and blood, or our lovers or children or hurt friends. And more often it is the others of whom we know nothing at all, and we are not their keepers. But yes, we are. The stranger in the subway, the victim faraway, as much as our closest friend whom we have hurt, or our parents, or ourselves.
9/12 is the 11th day of this 40 days journey to more focus, responsibility, a better life. The first ten days were a lot about our inner angst and yearnings – where we are and who we are and how we greet and what we eat. But the greater part of this PREPENT process is in considering how we are in relationships with others in our lives. Who have we hurt this past year? Who has hurt us? Where do we carry wounds and rages, and what can we do about it? How can we heal? how we can begin a new year with a cleaner slate?
I start tonight to make the black lists. Those I have hurt this past year – start with the ones I remember. There will be more lists – of those at whom I am angry, like Cain, the ones with whom I would like an eye to eye moment of acknowledgment or maybe a hug, a letting go, a moving on. a truce. a reconciliation. The lists of those to whom I need to say I'm sorry. The ones I ignored.
Not all will happen, but it starts tonight.
I know the first letter I must write tonight, to one brother, beloved, hurt: I am his keeper.
9/12 is already a special day of responsibility, a day of interdependence. Check out this brand new 4 min. short vid – a declaration of INTERDEPENDENCE, curated by my friends Tiffany Shlain and Ken Goldberg – premiered today: interdependence: the film
Are your your brother/sister's keeper?
Start your list.