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.
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