Years ago, I argued with my husband’s CO over dinner. I wasn’t the hostess with the mostest, but being of a leftist persuasion in those days, I had stong opinions which I shared as the CO and his wife sat across from us at our kitchen table. At the time, my then husband was a Captain in the U.S.M.C., and the CO was a Major or light Colonel, I forget which.
The subject we were discussing was whether or not one should “take care of others” and I told him point blank….”You are your brother’s keeper.” Now you might think this would ruin my husband’s chances for future promotion, but by then the EX and I were very nearly finished as a married couple. All it apparently did was encourage the commanding officer to ask my EX for my phone number after the EX and I split. I suppose he thought I was a sparkly little thing, but I never found out because I told the EX to forget it.
Years later, I found myself in a 12-step program for people who become involved through marriage, parenthood or in other ways with alcoholics and/or drug abusers. There I learned about the concept of ‘tough love.’ “If you baby them you bury them,” the saying goes. You must say “no” to the alcohol/drug abuser if you want to help. I learned this truth the hard way at a meeting one night when a woman shared that her adult daughter was living with them (her parents), although she wouldn’t stop “using.” “How old is she” one of us asked. Fifty-one was the answer. This shocked me, because up til then I had imagined the daughter was a kid in her 20s.
I was thinking brother’s keepers again this week because my daughter’s step MIL had to put her 21-year old son out of the house. The MIL has MS or some other disorder that has left her incapacitated and she requires homebound care. Problem is, the various caretakers have been terrified of the son, my SIL’s brother.
The son has a drug and alcohol problem and a room full of guns. My daughter has been afraid for years that the kid was going off his head (he went to school with her daughters). Lately the kid has been worse than ever and as MIL Mary’s latest homebound helper quit, the family finally persuaded the county to become involved and get the kid out of the house.
The MIL is now in the care of adult protective services and the local police force is monitoring the situation (you can’t do much until the kid commits a crime). The kid has plenty of money, his dad left him when he died, so he won’t starve, however, he won’t have to grow up and face his problems either.
I don’t think we are accountable for our ancestor’s, siblings or once they become adults, children’ actions. Jimmy Carter wasn’t brother Billy’s keeper, and Hillary is not her brother’s keeper. And Jeb Bush is not responsible for his brother’s decisions. He has no obligation to defend or deny them. All that matters is what we do in our own lives, or this is a sorry world indeed.
Below Grandson Jacob (yellow) and a friend at games in San Diego County