Perhaps the greatest challenge for me, during any stint in prison was dealing with various men who were nothing like me or the type of people I am known to associate. Sadly to say, although there were seldom minors locked up where I have been, it could not be proven by the behaviors exemplified by the “children” I have been forced to deal with. Yes, they have the bodies and voices of men but they have the mindset and maturity of boys! I will go so far as to even say, many I would classify simply as, “stupid”. It was until one day while undergoing my own inability to deal with some of them the word came, from God, and very clearly, “These are your brothers.” Now, although I do not have what may be considered a good brotherly relationship with my own biological brothers, I know how to treat them when and if we are ever together in the same room, and God’s directive to me in that instant was I should treat my cell-mates as my own brothers.
It needs to go even further than this. Not only those who lock in with me I need to treat as brothers, but those who wear the other uniform, who lock us up at night. They, too, are my brothers and sisters, no matter how they may treat me singularly or collectively because of my inmate status.
When I held such bitterness to the female counselor who put me in, “The Box”, when I got the message, from God, she is my sister, I could no longer hold onto the hatred. When I consider Christ whose, “brothers” were nailing Him to a wooden cross would yet exclaim, “Father forgive them…” it was because He was talking about His brothers. My brothers. Your brothers.
I need to make a point at this time. When we begin to see all men as our brothers, and all women as our sisters, they can no longer be addressed as, “nigga’s and bitches.” When someone angers us and no doubt as children, I, too, have had knock-down, drag-outs with my own biological brothers, today as a grown man I would not so why would I consider having such today? I would not and could not regardless of the situation. There should never be any reason for why my hands should make contact with another man, or woman, in any other than a loving manner.
When you see a brother, or sister, in need, and you are able to provide, you have a duty to do so. In our setting, it may be by offering a stamp so they can communicate home. It may be by offering a crack-head soup so they’ll have something to carry them until the next meal. More often than most, it should be a comforting word because you can never know what someone is experiencing especially while being placed within these walls.
We all have needs and we’re all experiencing pain and it is our duty to be sensitive to another’s pain. God is more than providing for our own and others may not know Him as you do. Or, you may not know Him, too, so look for those around you who do and associate yourself with them for if they are His they will never reject you and welcome you and the problems you bring.
I sit here on my bunk most of the day and brothers come for any reason. One just left after asking and receiving prayer to help overcome cigarettes and to fill the void within. The word is out in my unit that they can come and God brings them, so I must live my life being prepared to receive them. I cannot look away or disrespect anyone of them because they would not normally be considered a member of my association on the street. I have to see each man as my brother and this reaches further than any man-made prejudice which might still harbor itself within my being.
If Jesus says, “Let them come”, then you must welcome them; too, because a community looks out for each other. I am my, “brother’s keeper” and I choose to keep you well.