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My Brother's Keeper*

by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff

If a small child stumbled

Fell and cut her knee,

Would you not bend over and try to help?

Helping the fallen

Is part of the basic requirement

Of being a human being.

Then why do you run away

From all the broken ones

Who call out for our help?

Are we not broken ourselves?


Part of a Family

Growing up being the eldest of 3 brothers had its pluses and minuses. One of the things you learn early on is that you are indeed your brother’s keeper. Having responsibility to take care and help younger ones as they fall and protect by force when a bully tries to take advantage.

One of my favorite memories, with my 2 brothers, was going to Saturday afternoon movie matinees at the Empress Theatre on 181 St. Together we walked back and forth; crossing the upper Manhattan streets, avoiding oncoming traffic and con-men alike.

Each Saturday morning my mother packed us a lunch; give us 75 cents for admission (3 x 25) and $1.00 to spend at the movies. In those days, you could see 10 cartoons and 3 full-length monster/action movies for 25 cents. The extra $1.00 was for goodies like drinks, popcorn, hot-dogs and candy. Try to find a bargain like that today!

Some 7 hours later, by the time we got out of the theatre, we were blurry eyed and hoarse from screaming. What a blast! On the way home, we were careful not to be grabbed-up by a monster waiting for us behind a parked car or around an apartment building corner. To this day, I still check large stairways to make sure a giant crab isn’t waiting on the landing above to get me.

During this Saturday adventure, my job as eldest was to make sure money was evenly spent, lunch was fairly shared; and no one picked on my 2 younger brothers. Also I had to report back to my parents if we fought and punched each other too much or got in trouble in the movie theatre with the matron (usher).

Throughout the years, this early training served me well and helped me to be concerned about others; and to take notice when someone was trying to take advantage of their weaker brother. It’s just a natural part of being a member of a family, and whenever I can, I try to offer some corrective. Even if it just calling it out or writing about it.

Era of Exploitation

The era we live in is filled with example, after example, of the stronger exploiting the weak. In our country, most people are acutely aware that something has gone wrong and others are stealing their hard earned money: leaving nothing for them. Just about everyone I speak with, realizes the government with its 2 party system is no longer viable or interested in being their brother’s keeper. It seems elected officials want it all for them selves and their big business friends.

While this awareness has trickled down to the average person and has made them angry; few have a plan and for the time being, seem reluctantly complacent about this mess. It will not stay this way for much longer. We have reached ‘the tipping point,’ and all it will take is a few more failures like the mortgage bailout, a 10 year war in Afghanistan, and a hurricane like Katrina to awaken the sleeping giant. Many of our young people are having their futures stolen from them; under the guise of capitalistic enterprise and governmental interest and concern.

These young rebels are the champions of tomorrow; who will fight and take back by force what has been stolen. Then perhaps, we will again have a government of the people and for the people.

For many older folks like me, trying to survive has replaced the American dream of freedom to become and do.

Be strong.

You have within your grasp

A sword to vanquish desire.

Use it.

It has been given to you

For a Purpose.

Exert your will for God

And control the demons

Which beset you.


Revolution or Evolution

So when is the next great American Revolution? When will the champions arise to take back what has been stolen by politicians and capitalistic plunderers?

O you think this will never happen? Take heed and be assured the revolution is going on all about you; daily the seeds are being planted and as each traveler awakens to the possibility that life can be more than a life time sentence of credit card and mortgage payments, out of control gasoline and energy costs, and calling out as an enemy, anyone who disagrees with the current political system. These are not radical thoughts: they are reality; which many try to hide from us with a smoke screen of scapegoats, slanted news coverage and mindless entertainment.

All is ready for the Great Change; all it will take is a spark and the Phoenix will go into her death dance. This is part of the Great Wheel of Life so we might again enter the next Golden Age. Remember, we chose to be here and have contributed to this Awakening.

Again, after the ashes, the man/woman of the soul shall arise. Again, we will reenter our own renaissance. Try to be of good cheer; this evolutionary hour is why we chose to be here.

Now you must know, when the man/woman of the soul begins to rise, the masters say it is another man/woman. By which you must not understand it is another soul: it is another being of the soul: the old mode is done, it is dead. The soul assuming her real mode stands in her virgin innocence. The man of the soul, transcending his angelic mode and guided by the intellect, pierces to the source whence flowed the soul. Intellect itself is left outside with all named things. So the soul is merged into pure unity.

-Master Eckhart


*Thanks to my brother Jeff for our conversation and a lifetime of spiritual traveling together. Long ago, in another land, we made the decision to be here for each other and participate in this grand drama.


Check-out my two books: Sufism for Western Seekers: Path of the Spiritual Traveler in Everyday Life and The Ferryman’s Dream. Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.

If you are interested in learning more about universal mysticism and Sufism contact: drbitkoff@yahoo.com.

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