We may all be familiar with this question and its accompanying answer from the bible in Genesis 4:9 (NKJV) when God asked Cain "Cain where is Abel your brother? Cain replied, "I do not know, am I my brother's keeper?" I have heard this phrase "am I my brother's keeper?" used countless times by a lot of people, my self inclusive. The phrase is used as if to say, am I responsible for anyone other than myself?
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I get to work with the most amazing kids on the planet who have challenged this mindset, this way of thinking. I have learned so much in the little time I have spent with them. They are all so unique in their own right and bring different qualities to the table. If one of them is absent from school, their absence is felt. They all have to be there for my day at school to feel complete.
One day some of the kids scattered the puzzle they were piecing together because they had to leave the classroom. The youngest boy who is about four years of age didn't want them to mess up the puzzle; he planned to get back to it later. But the kids paid him no mind and messed it up. He started crying hysterically. Another boy who is about a year older than him came up to him, hugged him, wiped his tears and held him until he stopped sobbing, assuring him that it was going to be okay.
The way they care for each other is something that is unimaginable. The older ones get their work done on time so they can help out the younger ones. They help with feeding them, copying their class notes and packing up their books when school is out for the day. In fact, they argue about who is going to help who out with all of them vying for the sacred position. There is also a set of twins in the class a girl, and a boy. The girl makes sure her brother gets his work done, eats his snacks and looks out for him on the playground. It is impressive to watch. These children are just between four and six years old.
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It got me thinking if this was the plan God had in mind for His creation all along. A world where people don't just look out for themselves, but also look out for one another. A world where we fight to help each other rather than put each other down. A world where we make sure the other person gets their work done, and work so efficiently to get ours done on time so we can help those lagging behind.
A world where we care if others can feed or clothe themselves. What a world that will be. In the book of Matthew chapter 18 (NKJV), the disciples of Jesus came to Him asking who the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is. Jesus before He responds in verse 2, calls a little child and sets him in the midst of them saying “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
As I watch those little kids, they don't have a care in the world. They just want to help themselves and get to the next level together. When they are in class, and one of them walks in, they start cheering them on, calling out their name (like the audience of The Wendy William show do for Wendy), and they come together to give their classmate who just walked in a hug. All of them are locked up in one big bear hug as I watch a child who came in with a straight face, change to a face full of smiles, because of the warm welcome they just received from their peers. Although occasionally followed with "you are not my friend, and I don't want to play with you" because news flash, they are kids, yet that doesn't deter from the love they have for one another.
They may be upset with each other for a second, but then it goes away immediately when someone says something funny, or a teacher intervenes, and apologies are given. In a way God wants us to adopt the mindsets of little children. He doesn't want us to lose our innocence as we get older, just like the children I work with, He wants us to create a bond with ourselves that cannot be broken easily.
"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interest of others." (Philippians 2:4)
In the world we live in today, many people want to rise to the top just for their selfish gain. They don't care who they step on or tear down in the process. It's all about what I can do for myself when I get to the top. It's a dog eat dog mentality that a lot of people possess. Just take a second and imagine a work environment that encourages everyone to thrive, where everyone is looking out for each other like these children do and cheering their colleagues on when they see them having a hard time.
People will look forward to going to work each day and will perform at their best. I am not even these children's peer, but yet I look forward to going to work on the days I do, just to catch a glimpse of their lives.
A little story to bring to drive my point home
One day on my way out, I stopped over at my cousin's house to pick him up. While still waiting for him to come out of the house, I stepped down from the driver's seat and made my way to the passenger's side of the car (because I didn't want to keep driving ). I noticed that there was a guy on the side of the road, but I paid no attention to him.
After a few minutes of me getting back into the car, he came to knock on my window with me already being defensive thinking "what do you want," I wound down, and he said "don't be upset but check the back of your pants," and he left. That was when I realized my pants had ripped and my whole back area was exposed. I was not only ashamed of the fact that my pants were torn and this guy saw my underwear, but also because I was defensive when he came to knock on my window. Luckily for me, I had a pair of jeans in my car, and I quickly changed. Despite my embarrassment, I was thankful that a stranger, a man, looked out for me. He was his sister’s keeper.
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In this digital age that we live in, when everyone is quick to whip out their phone to record and post their next trending topic or where it could have been a suitable opportunity for sexual harassment, he chose to go a different route and save me from going around town without knowing I was exposed.
Such men should be celebrated and applauded. Like the children who I work with, who would have quickly pointed this out without even thinking about it, that is how society should be. We should be confident enough to go out in life knowing that we are not alone and that if we miss something, others will be there to pick up the slack. That is the kind of life I look forward to, that is the kind of life I believe God wants us to live. That was why He asked Cain “where is your brother?” and we should ask ourselves, am I my brother’s keeper?