Chewing on a piece of grass
Walking down the road
Tell me, how long you gonna stay here Joe?
Some people say this town don’t look
Good in snow
You don’t care, I know

Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger
Than moonshine
You’re gonna go I know

Am I my brother’s keeper? This is the singular question that haunts all of America/World right now. The questions of Social Security, health care, and the 99% are all predicated on the fundamental question of whether or not it is my responsibility to take care of others. The fundamental substructure of all communities and civilization is the belief in the “Golden Rule”. I will do my best to treat others as I wish to be treated, and I trust that you will do the same.

Any civilization/community/nation will fall apart when this fundamental trust broken. If I were to drive drunk, give you a garbage mortgage, or pick your pocket your fundamental trust of me and others would wane. This leads to a fundamental question, “Are there truly ‘Evil’ people in the world?”

There have been many who have told me this to be true. Every town I visit, I’m told to “be careful” in the next town because there are “bad people” there. These comments have a singular thread that unites them…fear. They evidence expectations unfulfilled, trust lost, and hopes dashed. Many people can express that “I trusted you to drive responsibly”, “I trusted you to not rob me”, and “I trusted you with my kids”, and yet know full well that that trust was squandered, wasted, and abused.

But are people evil? Are some?

As the nation recoils from multiple sexual abuse scandals, our trust of one another seems to be at an all time low. The presidents approval rating is lower than any president ever…lower than Carter, nine percent of the public trust the congress, and abuses of power by those who were entrusted with it are rampant in the media. In a season where we read Dicken’s “Christmas Carol” we have failed to believed the moral tale. We find the wealthy blaming the poor if they don’t have job, and the poor digesting and believing this self-hate.

What then is the solution? There is only one. Trust, love, and treat your neighbor as yourself…despite the fact that they will fail. We all fail. We all fall. I’ve debated for sometime about relating all my shortcomings here, a sort of preemptive solution to the day when my short comings are made known by others. I am not perfect…but neither are you. We have all been the worst person possible. We have all thought the worst things, despite whether we did them or not, we did them in our mind. Despite this, we have all been the best too. We have all been trustworthy too. We have all stood up for the underdog, poor, helpless, and handicapped. We have all cheered for Tom Thumb, and were gladdened by the conversion and redemption of Scrooge.

(Forgive, trust, forgive, trust, forgive, trust, forgive, trust, forgive, trust)  X  (Infinity)

Yes, I am my brothers keeper.

This morning as I walked through downtown Ventura I met a homeless man abusing a woman named Tina. I shared with them both my bananas and cookies; the victim and the victimizer. I asked him to love her for she needed it—she deserved it. I shook his hand. Who shakes hands with the homeless? Not many, but by shaking hands with him and by feeding him I loved him just as I asked him to love her.

I next met a 10 year old boy who seemed to be in a hurry. He was carrying a bowl of Cherrios complete with milk. I commented on it, and he said, “I’m late for school…what else can I do?” Truly, what else could he do. I just laughed out-loud. What else can we all do? If we all just do are best despite the actions of others, and we do it anyway; what else can we do?

People are good. If we all just do what we can. As Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local”. Start small and love your neighbor, be your brother’s keeper. Be the love in your neighborhood…even if it costs you your life.

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