09/24/2012 02:41 pm ET Updated Nov 24, 2012

Am I My Brother's Keeper? What Mitt's Infamous Comment Really Means...

The candidate for president, Mitt Romney, made the infamous comment that might just have cost him the presidency -- something about the forty-seven percent of the American voters he's separated his campaign efforts from ever trying to reach because, in his words, "they would not vote for me anyway."


Whatever would possess a candidate for the presidency to presume a comment like this would not come back to haunt him is an amazing demonstration of disconnectedness with potential voters in-and-of-itself. But, before I'm too hasty in my judgment of him, I am reminded that it is this capacity to see myself as separate from other people... and not just from voters... which is the core error in humanity today, whether speaking about the separateness that plays out in political parties and ideologies, between nations and religions, or even the division one might experience within one's own family.

Gone are the days of "us and them." Actually, it would be more accurate to say, there has never been such a time. To be sure, there has been, just as there always will be, differences of political opinion and ideology, as well as religious conviction and affiliation, or lack of it, and so on. The differences are almost endless. But, when it comes to our humanity, any such separateness is an illusion. A dangerous illusion, too, as the Genesis story of Cain and Abel reminds us.

After slaying Abel, God inquired of Cain regarding the whereabouts of his brother. Without any editing and slightly reminiscent of the unedited and ill-advised "47 percent" remark made by Romney, Cain defensively reacted, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. 4:9).

I have been wondering lately whether it is reasonable to question a candidate's readiness for the presidency if her or his vision of the human family has not transcended all notions of separateness. If we are not our brother's keeper, then who are we? If I am not my brother's keeper, then who am I? In other words, the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" is the wrong question.

You ARE the brother! In this instance, sir, you ARE the voter!