“Am I my brother’s keeper” is a question that has been asked since the first sons of Adam. When Cain fired this question back to his creator, he had no idea we would be asking ourselves that same question of each other countless times over throughout our lives. God expects us to be each other’s keeper. Does this only extend to our biological brothers? No.
2021 has been rough. It wasn’t much better than 2020 and in some ways worse. 2022 is shaping out to be the trilogy of the pandemic and hopefully its last chapter. So how do we get through tough times? How do we keep hope alive? We look after each other, every day, in all our interactions.
All things considered, 2021 was one of my roughest years. But I had keepers everywhere I looked. My family and friends are second to none and were always there. But what if they weren’t? Who else can I rely on? Certainly when times are tough, we should look to the fraternity for guidance and fellowship. Too often when times get tough, I see guys fade away instead of embracing the brotherhood to its fullest extent. Masons throughout the State of Illinois had my back through it all, and most of them didn’t even know it. The routine of lodge, the degree rehearsals, and the programs kept normalcy in place when all else seemed lost.
But who else is our keeper and who else should we be looking after? Our coworkers are a good start. We spend more time with them than our own family on occasions. Do you lift people up when they are down or do you shame them for having bad days? Are you the guy that figures out what is going on in their lives before making rude comments? Practice showing grace and support even when people are having the worst of days. When you are out shopping, are you being your brother’s keeper to the store clerk, to the door greeters, the strangers in the parking lot. They just might need that touch of class, that smiling face, the hope that good people still exist. You are giving them light by being a decent human being especially in difficult times.
As I turned 31 years old this year, I reflected on the 31st Degree in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, NMJ. A key theme in that degree addresses this very question “Am I my brother’s keeper?”. In various parts of the degree, the characters keep saying NO! Their excuses are weak although are always “justified” so they do not feel guilty about passing by without helping. In the end though, a just and upright Mason cuts through the bull and explains to the group that they are in fact their brother’s keeper, on all occasions.
Eric Church says this in the song ‘Those I’ve Loved’
“And I hope they know I never would have made it this far on my own, where would we all be without those fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers; the friends I’ve made along the way.”
So remember that when you’re out and about next time. Be there for people. Always.
WB Christopher J. Hathaway was raised in Catlin Masonic Lodge #285 and is a plural member of Normal Masonic Lodge #673 as well as Bloomington Lodge #43, where he is a Past Master. He belongs to the Valley of Danville, AASR where he is the Most Wise Master of the George E. Burow Chapter of Rose Croix and Membership Chairman. He is the Oriental Guide in the High Priest & Prophet for the Mohammed Shiners, and the President of the Bloomington Shrine Club. Other appendant bodies include the Gao Grotto and the Illinois Lodge of Research. Outside of the lodge, he enjoys cheering on the Fighting Illini and Chicago Cubs.