My brothers keeper


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Category: Reflections 05 Nov 06


Yvonne Teelucksingh

“It is not the brutality of the bad but the silence of the good people that destroys a society.”

(Martin Luther King)


On the day of Eid ul Fitr, my dear friend, her daughter and I went to call on a couple of my Muslim friends. When we arrived at the first home, several other guests were already there and we all sat around a long table, chatting about this and that.


Sitting next to me was our hostess and at a right angle to her, a mother in full Muslim garb with her son—about two years old—on the chair next to her.


The little boy appeared somewhat bemused at the strange faces around him and put his hand out to reach up to his mother, who promptly slapped it away. He reached out again, a second and third time and each time was slapped away, the slaps increasing in harshness as she commented, “He feel he could rule me.”


When I asked where our host was, our hostess used it as an excuse to quickly slip away while I—never one to suffer fools and bullies kindly—debated what to do?


When the young boy was slapped for the fourth time, my friend, her daughter and I removed ourselves.


We had intended to call on my cousin (who lives about five minutes away) later on but now elected to visit her first.


On the way, I silently berated myself for having said nothing but felt that if I had chastised this woman, I would have embarrassed not only my host and hostess but also my friend and her daughter who were celebrating Eid ul Fitr for the first time.


I could only mutter to my friend as we drove off, “That kind of behaviour is totally un-Islamic.”


On Father’s Day, I listened to the host of a morning talk show recount how greatly he had been touched as he left his home that morning and was greeted by the man who collected his garbage.


Soul’s strength


He wrung the hearts of many listeners when he told us of this “poor man” who had been up since “fo’day morning,” working steadily without a morsel or drink having touched his lips while he, fortunate man, had coffee made by his wife, etc, etc.. before he left for work.


I waited with bated breath to hear him say that he had gone back into his house and brought this man a cup of tea or coffee—whatever—but, to my amazement and dismay, that was the end of the story.


Fast forward to the past week when once again this nation has been presented with the horrendous death of one of our children, an 11-year old boy of Enterprise.


Again, we have a village of bleeding hearts telling the world how badly he was treated, abused, ignored, despised; how he suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to love, protect and guide him. Yet, it is only now that he has died such a gruesome death that we hear the chorus of apportioning blame and lamenting of abuse.


The question one must ask is why was nothing said before?


Why was nothing done? Why did no one try to help or if they could not, why was not a report of the abuse this child suffered made to the relevant authorities?


But then, that would have meant getting involved and that is something that we no longer do. Like the good people, we pass on the other side and leave it to some Good Samaritan to come along and dirty his or her hands. Oh, we are quick to trot out the banalities—“It takes a village to raise a child”; “I am my brother’s keeper”.


This country is enough to make the angels weep.


In addition to living in fear for our own lives and those we love, we have now descended into an abyss of greed, envy and hatefulness—where “a joy ride and a free lunch” are what most of us appear to strive for.


It is stuff to try the soul’s strength on …


Ira Mathur will return next week.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur