Note From Your Sister: “Stop Keeping Me”Posted: November 4, 2013
It’s an old story. Cain kills Abel. God (who knows darn well what happened but decides this is a teaching moment) asks Cain to give up the whereabouts of his brother. Cain, a natural defense lawyer, asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And God…goes off on a tangent. Get used to that. It happens. A lot.
In Jewish Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin writes that God doesn’t answer Cain’s question directly but God does answer distinctly. “The entire Torah is the answer to that question,” Telushkin writes. “And, the answer is ‘Yes’.”
At this point, Regis should step out from behind a Cedar of Lebanon and say, “Is that your final answer?” Because I’d like a second opinion.
This week has been full of misdirected and unqualified keepers:
In Overland Park Kansas, a couple left a note for a waiter that read: “Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. Queers do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your f*g choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’S love, but none shall be spared for f*gs. May GOD have mercy on you.”
In Fargo N.D. a radio station claimed a woman called and sent them a letter suggesting obese children not be given candy at Halloween. It should be noted the radio station in question has a history of hoaxes and the truth of this has not been verified. However, Erin Ryan of the website Jezebel writes, “Ultimately it doesn’t matter if it’s real or not because we all know someone who feels this way. It may be a parable but it’s reflecting a modern reality.”
A Los Angeles mom with a fitness business drew ire and news reports by posting a picture of her slender body with her 3 young children adding the caption, “What’s Your Excuse?” She claimed she was simply trying to inspire moms to realize they can find the time to work out. What the ill-advised caption did was bring accusations of “fat-shaming” and turn a chance for moms to think about health into a controversial and sexist discussion about whether not women have to look good.
In all three cases, my first reaction was, “WHO ASKED YOU?”
After that, I simply reflected on the sheer sadness that all of these people thought they were doing something good. They were, in their minds, being the keeper.
Well – it’s time to admit that we are no longer (if ever) fit for the job of keeper. Plunged into a world full of media, comparison, competition, attention addiction and compassion deprivation – our ability to keep ourselves is limited at best. Our ability to keep others is downright destructive. The only thing our diversity-phobic, politically correct, social shaming is doing is keeping us depressed, stressed, and in the closet. It’s simply time to stop keeping our brothers and sisters and open the gates to acceptance, inspiration (breathed into by the spirit), and hope.
If the Torah’s answer to the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper” is “Yes” then the gospel’s answer to the question is “Not so fast.” Jesus doesn’t tell people to “keep” their brother (or sister). Jesus tells people to love, to care for, feed and heal, stand with, and encourage. Jesus tells people to work on keeping their own selves (take the log out of your eye first, buddy) before signing on to keep another. In fact, one of the main jobs of the Messiah is to “set the captives free.” – That’s pretty much the opposite of “keeping.”
Bottom line: I don’t care if you are vegan, orthodox, atheist, rescue pet centered, GLBTSSAQ&QQ (please, well-meaning people, stop with the alpha-soup!), mommy-van driving, home-birthing, conservative, liberal or anti-circumcision — Do what you do, be who you are, walk with me, laugh with me, cry with me, pray with me and dine with me but please, please, please – stop keeping me.