Wednesday, October 26, 2011

my brother's keeper

There was an old woman who lived in a small neighborhood.  She was different than other people.  Her neighbors looked at her and avoided her because she was different.  She wasn't always clean, and she walked with a limp, leaning heavily on a walking stick for balance.

Her neighbors watched from behind their curtains, and talked to each other about the old woman, and wondered about her and how she lived.  They never talked to the old woman, or asked how she was doing.  She was different from them, and no one ever came to visit her.  She had an old dog who lived with her, and she would talk to the dog.  Her neighbors thought she was crazy.

As time went on, the old woman became frailer, and thinner.  The dog and woman rarely ventured beyond their yard.  No lights shone in the house at night.  And eventually the dog and woman did not go outside into the yard.  A neighbor noticed the dog in the yard one day, not moving, and called another neighbor and told him "I think that old woman has killed her dog."

The neighbor called the police.  The police called the ASPCA.  They came to the house and knocked on the old woman's door.  She opened the door slowly, and let them inside.  The neighbors watched from behind their curtains, and called each other on the phone, wondering what horrors the police were discovering about the crazy old woman.

After a while, the police came out.  They took the dead dog away to be buried.  One neighbor, the one who called the police, wanted to know what the police were going to do.  He expected them to handcuff the old lady and take her to jail, and was angry because they hadn't.  He rushed up to the police, demanding to know what they were going to do.

"We aren't going to do anything" the officer told the neighbor.  "A while back, some people were hired to do some work for the old woman, and they tricked her into giving them all her money.  Your neighbor's dog was not killed.  He starved to death, because the old woman did not have the money to buy any food.  She is sick and has not had any food in her house for a long time.  We are calling for an ambulance to take her to the hospital now, so she can be cared for."


I rarely use this blog as a forum.  First, because I think there are many people out there who speak to important issues with much more eloquence than I can.  And secondly, because that is not the focus of what I write about.  


Occasionally I get riled up and feel the need to climb up on my soapbox and share my thoughts.  Even though most of what I write is meant to be funny or touch on softer emotions, I do feel strongly about many things.  I learned of something last week that touched me so forcefully, I feel compelled to share my thoughts and feelings. 


Details have been changed to protect the innocent.  But the end result is the same.  We can do great things and contribute to many causes.  But if we live in ignorance and fear of what goes on in our own community, how can we truly be giving, and charitable?  Understanding begins at HOME.  Charity begins at HOME.  I believe that.  And try to live that belief every day.  I see poverty and illness every day.  EVERY DAY.  And try to make a small difference in the lives of those I serve every day. 


I am my brother's keeper.



~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

30 comments:

  1. Ignorance and stupidity without compassion prevail in our world. I have seen such things as well and it sickens me.

    A

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  2. That is just the saddest story Cathy. There have been similar stories here in the city I live with people being found passed away in their beds, having been there for a year or so. It's so hard to believe that this can happen, but it does as people so easily turn a blind eye to things. I don't blame it on the generation though, as from personal experiences when I was younger people stuffed their heads into the sand too. I hope that more people like you speak up, and make a stand, my leading the way and demonstrating some 'niceness'.

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  3. Maybe corporations will step up - I mean, we're told by some that corporations are people too. NOT!

    I'm not sure why that comes mind - maybe because rapacious corporate has infected everything in the US to the point where there is little charity, where people cheer the uninsured dying, etc.

    You are right, Cathy. It's a rant worth having. Thank you.

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  4. What a poignant story. Reminds me of this elderly vagrant who rummages through garbage near the university I work in. One day he was interviewed by a student for his documentary class and it turned out the vagrant was a former English professor. He showed the poems he wrote on discarded paper packets for fries.

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  5. This is such a shame. My daughter, Michaela, experience something like this. Her peers giggle and joke behind her back, ignoring her because they think she is different. If they only took the time to get to know her, they would see she is like any other teenage girl that just wants to have friends.

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  6. This is a very sad story and unfortunately it plays out in many different ways in our own communities. We need to hold and keep one another. God put us here to love one another.

    http://lyricfire.typepad.com/lyric-fire/2011/10/lyric-fire-look-at-my-fabulous-life-episode-10-.html

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  7. Yes, yes, and yes! We are our brother's keeper and charity does begin at home. What was it that Dorothy said in "The Wizard of Oz"? "If it was in my own backyard, I never lost it to begin with." (paraphrase, at best!)

    We need to look in our own backyards and give a hand up, a prayer shared, a chore offered, an invitation to dinner, a conversation meant to bring out the best in the other.

    "Love one another as I have loved you." John 13:34

    Thank you for these words of inspiration today!

    Blessings!

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  8. this saddened me so..ignorance is a horrible thing and because of it this woman and her dog suffered terrible.....people just open your eyes,,just open your eyes....As always....XOXOXOXOXO

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  9. please rant on Cathy i have seen this way way to often. it rips at my soul tear my heart out. and we call our selves christens. just don't live it. you know its Halloween and the scary thing that Rome our neighborhood we feed with candy. why can't we go door to door onetime and say hi i am Roy your neighbor can i do anything for a friend
    thank you for this post and rant on god bless

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  10. What I believe saddens me the most about this story is that I thought you were speaking of someone I know. In our community of about 3500 people there is one family that everyone knows, but tries to avoid. She lives with her son who is said to be the son of her brother. They are mentally challenged, but they do there best to provide for themselves. I can't fathom how many cans the son picks up in a day to make money. When we worked the concession stand at our High School I noticed that after everyone left, he would dumpster dive to retrieve the cans. I walked over to him one evening and told him that I would put out recycle bins for only cans so that he didn't have to root through the garbage. I am also on a committee that puts a festival together for the townspeople with several other members. We hire pick up people to clean the square up after each night is over and hired this family for three years to do it. We paid them for two nights worth of work which was $250.00 and you would have thought they won the lottery.

    I don't know and will never understand the lack of empathy in people today. Maybe it has always been that way, I just never saw it because my heart literally hurts to see others suffering or even alone.

    What a tragic and sad story. I hope that those people who never once spoke to this woman feel some sort of remorse for there lack of care or concern for her and her dog.

    Our World would be a better place if people could open their hearts and feel compassion for the less fortunate, not treat them like the plague.

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  11. Cathy, thanks for sharing and shaking us up! So sad and how often do we not look away and carry on with our so important tasks.
    And then I wonder why we do not feel more responsibility towards people less fortunate?

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  12. What a sad story that is - and you know these stories always invariably end with a sick "only if" feeling! You are so right about "charity begins at home". I am a firm believer of that.

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  13. Ignorance is disappointing... and never works. It is sad that many believe that by sticking to the same lot they are in good company....
    Why is it hard to accept and understand that we are all unique and all worth knowing....loving and accepting of others.

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  14. Some how many of us distance ourselves from helping others for various reasons and ignorance is one of them.

    An eye opening post.

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  15. I appreciate all these thoughtful comments...and just wanted to add that the person in the story is being cared for...I appreciate all the compassion and stories you all have shared...it always makes me feel better when I see something unjust happen, to know there are people out there who DO care and who DO seek to be kind to others.

    I hope the next time you see someone who is different or a bit scary...because of the way they look, that you will think twice...and maybe take the time to at least say hi...you would be surprised how a smile and saying hi can brighten someone's day....

    ~cath xo

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  16. That was such a sad story but one with huge meaning. We make so many ignorant judgments based on our fears. How sad that that little old lady had to watch her precious dog die...
    Thanks for posting. This was powerful.
    Peace,
    Leah

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  17. All too often people see pictures of hungry children and suffering around the world and say how sad it is and right checks and feel so prideful for "helping the less fortunate" - all the while turning a blind eye to the hungry children and suffering down the street. It's time to open our eyes. We can't truly take care of others if we are not taking care of our own.

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  18. This was a really touching post, with an important message that eloquently addressed. I'm going to share this on fb. It's something everyone should read.

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  19. You pretty much said what i could not effectively communicate. +1

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  20. @Leah, @Beckey and @Jessica: thanks for the thoughtful comments. If people would be more aware and realize what they think they see may not be what is truly happening, there might be less suffering in our own communities. Poverty exists everywhere.

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  21. Thank you for that post. It's awful that people can live in cities and be surrounded by people, yet still be so alone. Let's all keep our eyes out for people looking for a friend.

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  22. @Sarah thank you for that thoughtful feedback Sarah. You are right, all we need to do is open our eyes and make a small step toward someone. That first step is the hardest. :D

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  23. Charity starts at home. It is about trying to make a small difference every day. A very powerful story. There are too many old ladies like the one you describe!

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  24. @MuMuGB you are right Muriel, and there are needy folks all around us. Thanks for your comment. :)

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  25. It's so easy to pass judgment--so much easier than to find out the real story and act with compassion. It happens in big situations like this, and in small situations, as small as gossipy situations within a church or assumptions made about people's motivations in a classroom setting. I'm as guilty of it as the next...but I'm really trying to work on that!

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  26. Such a sad story - thanks for sharing

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  27. It is so easy to presume but we see and understand so little sometimes. And even sadder, we act even less. :)

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  28. @Kathleen Basi The hardest thing to do is take a step toward someone who is different or kind of scary. But once you take that step, the rewards are immeasurable. And I believe that as long as we work to strengthen our weaknesses, we grow in spirit. Keep up the good work!

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  29. @idiosyncraticeye What we perceive to be the truth and what the truth actually is, are often polar opposites aren't they? Thanks so much for your comment!

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