Am I? Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

The story comes early in the Bible—an account of anger leading to murder—the first recorded in the Bible. An encounter in the field between two sons of Adam and Eve led to Cain slaying his brother Abel. Quickly God came on the scene and quizzed Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother?”

With utter arrogance Cain snaps back, asking a most profound question—a question that hauntingly rings in our ears today, “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”

While in no way excusing the actions of Cho Seung-Hui during last Monday’s brutal rampage, it has been disheartening over the past few days to hear many accounts of Cho’s being teased and taunted throughout his lifetime. He could not speak well, possibly was autistic, definitely had a non-American accent, and could well have suffered mental anguish since his earliest days. He was a loner, had no friends…a loser in every sense of the word. No one rescued him.

I am aware of a precious few who tried to help him, and sincerely applaud them for their actions. Perhaps nothing could have been done for Cho, but I write this post today as a reminder that, truly, we are our brothers’ keepers. Let us consider carefully our neighbors, those with whom we work, students beside whom we sit, or those who occupy the pew beside us on a Sabbath morning.

Let us speak with our children; indeed let us commune in our own souls concerning respect for those who are different and needy and downtrodden. Perhaps we can search out a Cho Seung-Hui, touch him on the shoulder, sit beside him on a bench, or fall into step with him on a city street. Perhaps we can persevere so that he feels a genuine love. Maybe one day he will risk a raising of his head or a look into our eyes.

Mabe we can’t do it, maybe we can’t at all. But at the least, we can try.


My other blog is here.


About Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 78 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She has been married to Jerry for 60 years. They have 4 children, 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Comfort, Devotionals, Fallen Man, Friendship, Genesis, God, Love, Love of God. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Am I? Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

  1. mkeckler says:

    Thank you for this timely reminder. Life is precious–and busy, but you remind me to look around and lift my eyes from the daily tasks that can potentially numb my senses for people’s needs around me.


  2. gracemark says:

    I’ve been having to face a lot of these questions myself, in light of the Virginia Tech tragedy. This issue cuts to the core of Christ’s instructions to love our neighbors as ourselves. I think this issue makes me most uncomfortable because I start to fear the changes that might need to take place in regards to my comfort zone. But, what a petty concern that is in light of recent events. I will pray that I can be humbled each day to the point where I never turn away a seeking neighbor.

  3. Pingback: Lessons From a Monster « Shirley Buxton

  4. Shirley says:

    Good morning, Maria.

    Indeed we can become so busy with “life” that we are in danger of neglecting that which is of utmost importance—people who God created.

    Thank you for being here and for your candor.


  5. Shirley says:

    Gracemark, the person who “invented” the term comfort zone, did us a favor, for indeed it well describes the mediocre place in which we sometimes find ourselves settled.

    It’s hard, I agree, to snatch ourselves from such a comfy spot, but I believe we can do it.

    Peace and hope,


  6. helenl says:

    Shirley, Sadly, Christians often live samll lives. When we concentrate only on our extended families and church families and spend all of our time with them, we we begin to forget those who are not like us, and maybe don’t want to be. We create a false security in which evryone has similar goals.

    We cannot hope to save everyone from every ill that befalls him/her, but we can remember that the world is our mission field, not the comfortable Bible study group where most of the people in attendance think mostly like us.

    I am my brother’s keeper. And sometimes that means supporting someone whose actions I don’t like at all. “My brother” may be a Muslim, a homosexual, a stalker, or a child molester. He may be on death row. She may be an “illegal alien” or be on welfare and have six illigitimate children whom she neglects. May God help us not to love unconditionally and not to live so small.

  7. Shirley says:

    Hello, Helen.

    I have attended a few churches, where on exiting the building and/or the parking lot, there is a sign that reads, “You are now entering the mission field.” This is certainly so true, and we should often be reminded of that staggering fact.

    Here in Lake Havasu, several times I have visited families whose children greet me at the door or who are playing outside in their yards. When I ask to speak to their parents, I am often told, “They’re still asleep.” When I do talk with a parent and see inside the houses, many scenes of filth and disorganization greet me. The sweet children grin and follow me around the neighborhood, the parents promise to let them go to church…but so far it hasn’t happened. Yes, it’s a mission field, and the sadness, neglect, and opportunity fiercely grips my heart.

    Many years ago I read the story of a man (maybe I have written of this before—not sure) observed on a cold, lonely beach. One by one he was picking up starfish and throwing them into the ocean. When asked what he was doing, the man replied, “Throwing starfish back into the water.”

    “But there are so many,” the observed protested. “Your actions won’t make any difference.”

    “It will to this one,” the first man said, as again, he flung a stranded starfish into the sea.

    Maybe we can make a little difference to the needy people in our space. Few may notice, and our efforts will hardly make a dent in our needy world, but to the one or two to whom we minister, healing and restoration will come.


  8. chrisd says:

    Amen and amen!

    I am blessed to be in a church that tries to say hi to my children and take a little interest in them on Sunday morning. It’s small, but I believe it is powerful.

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