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Thursday, October 09, 2014

My Brother

My younger brother passed away last weekend.

It was not entirely a surprise, but that only eliminated the element of surprise, not the element of grief. Yesterday I saw the real meaning of "Infinity", which is never to see again; never, never, infinitely never will the touch or look be there.

Drugs may have been involved.
Thus, he belonged to the under-class of our brave, new world. Even though many of us have read and heard the Gospels say that our human judgement is a perilous project:

- Judge not so that you may not also be judged;
- Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone;
- As you measure, so shall it be measured to you;

we always ignore such scriptural clap-trap and render our judgements, probably with the feeling of great satisfaction that we are once again showing Jesus of Nazareth who's boss.

All elements of the "good" people involved treated me with respect and my brother's memory with disrespect. From the police to the medical examiner's office to the landlord of the apartment where he lived, deftly, surely, respectfully, with great sympathy...  and some without even a vestige of sympathy, casting out his belongings... they let it be known that my brother was really not worth my time.

The police went to great lengths to make sure I was informed not only of his last moments, but of a parade of events earlier which cast him into a bad light. They did not know that I usually saw him every week or two; that we would go to the bank and the store; that we would go to the coffee shops; that we would drive down to the river and watch the river traffic and talk.

The "better" crowd wanted me to know that he was riffraff, just in case I were one of those relatives who, after having ignored the black sheep of the family for years, now pops up out of no-where to act in a pious manner.

I do not judge their actions. I merely state that I was appalled by them, and I continue to be so, even though I fully understand them.
What I cannot understand is the vast desert of ignorance of any religious teaching underpinning our everyday activities... for if someone acts in a manner we consider immoral, then why would we jump at the chance to add a judgement which is discountenanced by Scripture?

Not to judge does not mean to approve of. It merely means to be silent. It means to seek understanding of our lives of happiness and suffering.

A judgement is cast in stone. Understanding is deep change, for to understand something we previously did not understand changes us and our world. That is why I hate "belief" systems: they are dead and buried in a vault. I would rather seek understanding and be surprised by the world and by God...  for I do not question existence, but I realize my grasp of the Nature of the World and The Holy is grossly imperfect.

Those who make judgements are the "good" citizens who seek to have the Ten Commandments propped up in front of the City Hall: the commandments are Laws, cast in stone, unalterable.
If we put up the Golden Rule to do unto others as we would wish them to do to us in front of City Hall, we might cause people to stop and ponder. Thinking deeply might cause change. Insights might fly in like a flock of flamingos, and we would be changed.
Perish the thought!

Those who judge now reflect that he who was of little value has now died, punished by death and the barbs of our condemnations, while the "good" live on in sanctity.

Those who understand now look about like the Prince of Verona at the end of Romeo and Juliet, look about at the dead and the living, and say:

"All are punishèd...
    All are punishèd ! "



Reading the Signs said...

Dear Montag - I have been away from the land of Blog for some time, just looked in - and see this post about your brother. I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry that you came up hard against the bruising disrespect to your brother's memory. I am moved by your words "the real meaning of "infinity", which is never to see again, never, never, infinitely never will the touch or look be there."

Montag said...

Thank you, Signs.

The funeral was yesterday, and I got through my eulogy without crying.

The recessional, however, was Nearer My God To Thee, and I melted rapidly.

Trevor3130 said...

Sounds like you may have been one of the few (or, the only) person(s) to treat your brother with respect. Do you remember one of the final scenes in 'What's Up With Gilbert Grape', where his mother is on her bed talking to Gilbert's friend? She says, in anguish, "I didn't want to finish up like this".

Montag said...

Yes, Trevor, I remember that scene.

It makes me wonder if I should see that film again.
"I didn't want to finish up like this" sort of implies an immense mystery of fate and will that intrigues me.