Of late I have found myself pondering that question along with what exactly constitutes "humanity".
My daughter and I are writers, but we are also classified permanently disabled, which means we squeeze our meager resources together each month to keep roof over head, food on table and litter in boxes for two precocious kitties.
Now I can see some of you out there shaking your heads and thinking..."Well, if you're so resource strapped, what business do you have supporting cats?
To those who are cogitating over that conundrum, let me explain that medical health providers will tell you that when you have disabled people who are bound by their disabilities to little if any outside activities, having the sweet, gentle purring of a contented cat in your lap being rubbed methodically and with care and affection by that disabled entity, the calm that can and does sweep through that person's...
...neurons and synapses may be far more advantageous than the best anti-depressants; which in the long run, are far more costly than the aforementioned feline companions.
My daughter and I have two...one is hers and is so in tuned to her body's aura, she will often alert me to the onset of one of my daughter's more violent convulsive seizures.
That precious early warning allows me to get in place so I can minimize the extent of injuries my daughter must suffer during those seizures. That alone makes that kitty worth her weight in gold, and then some.
The other kitty is our baby kitty. She came to us from the Animal Shelter wrapped in a blue wash cloth, she was that tiny, but has been fearless and a great source of laughter, joy, and unadulterated and unconditional love. So once in a while she protests when the litter box is not scooped clean fast enough...small price for all the wonderment she brings into our world.
And that brings me, in my own convoluted way, back to my original question. Am I my brother's keeper...or, and here is MY take on what the question should really ask...Am I my brother's sister?
I am sitting here tonight before my computer screen, my adult daughter, the radiant joy of my life, despite all the challenges of her uncontrolled seizures,
sleeping contentedly nearby...so I can hear her and reach her should she begin one of her seizures...with our eldest cat curled up on the round mound of her hip, or beneath her neck stretched out in utter adoration and trust.
I have one light on and the air conditioner is quietly keeping the air comfortable in the 90 degree heat still squeezing in from outside.
You can not see, unless you are on your hands and knees over near the balcony door, the purple cord that keeps the balcony door open because my neighbor knocked on my door, and in unwarranted humiliation asked me for help.
She has an adult son with many medical issues too...one being total blindness and others dealing with respiratory issues.
Please, she asked nervously, her son needs a fan...there electricity was shut off just today...she's been out on disability and is awaiting her workman's comp...could she please run a cord...she'd pay me and take care of me and my daughter with transportation anywhere we wanted to go...(neither my daughter or I drive any longer)...but please.
I looked at her and said "Of Course, and not to worry about anything. Neighbors look out for neighbors."
Brothers and sisters look out for each other. I am not my brother's keeper...I am my brother's sister. I am God's daughter and my neighbor is God's daughter. Her son is my brother, my son, my family. There but for the Grace of God, go I. We are all of us neighbors helping neighbors.
My daughter and I have little. We have been in that place where we wondered how we would pay to keep the utilities on, the food on the table, the roof over our heads.
A fire years ago stripped us of everything, and for one solid week we had to live in my car...my daughter, my son, and myself until my next paycheck when I could put down a security deposit while we waited for our insurance company to pay a small percentage towards our loss. All we had left was the black smoke lining all of our nostrils, and that car we would live in for the week to come.
Tomorrow it could be us again needing to reach out a hand with bent head asking for help.
We have little, but we may not be our brother's keeper, but we are our brother's family...and family...GOD'S family is here to help each other along this path...
...so I have this purple cord, which means I cannot completely close the door...My daughter is a major bug-a-phobe...the gap that lets the cord run from my surge protector...
...to the fan my neighbor's son needs for his well being, is now taped with packaging tape to keep any wayward bugs out...
...and my daughter sleeps deeply and contentedly...she shared in making the decision to help our neighbor...and her cat is stretched out beneath her chin, their bond ethereal...and I am here typing this, my mind fluid in its ponderings.
I am going to end this by saying deep inside I feel good knowing I have helped. It was soul wrenching for her to knock on my door and beg for help...I hope she will know no matter what I am first and foremost her sister, and sisters look out for each other.