I haven't posted in a while. My brother passed two months ago today. It was sudden and unexpected. One of those cancers that show little in the way of symptoms until it's too late.
I'm not exactly what one would call emotionally demonstrative, unless you count being perpetually glib an emotion. (Yeah, I know. Yada yada defense mechanism...I'm workin' on it, alright?). So I was caught off guard as far as how much his loss affected everything I was doing. Especially writing. I usually write a blog post down on paper, then go back and read it a day or so later. At that point, I usually think, "What crap", and try again.
My brother and I weren't close growing up. He was 15 years older, and out on his own before I was really aware of his presence. As a teenager, I spent a couple of summers with him and his family. I had a lot of hair, and an equal amount of angst. But he was patient with me, and I was lucid enough between bong hits for some of it to take. He would occasionally get the look on his face that hard to describe. It was his way of calling bullshit when I did or said something stupid. Whatever it was, it worked.
After I became an adult, my brother and I found that we had two diametrically opposing political viewpoints. This made for some interesting Thanksgivings, and a couple of decades' worth of spirited emails.
For me, it began when Reagan was elected. I knew it was bad. Really bad. I knew that the consequences would be far-reaching. Being able to say, "I told you so" isn't as fun as I thought it would be.
I suspect now that, much of the time, my brother was playing devil's advocate in order to get me to think logically, and back up my opinions. If so, I owe him a debt of gratitude.
But what I've learned, is that logic and reason must be tempered with empathy and compassion. Otherwise, we tend to end up doing what is expedient, rather than what is right.
Part of my liberalism, and my atheism for that matter, is the belief that most people are good, decent, hard-working folks just trying to do the best they can. Sometimes this is little more than a carefully cultivated delusion. But it's a necessary one, I think. When I'm wrong, it is often spectacularly so. But the times I'm right more than make up for it. If I'm to err, I prefer it to be on the positive side. The problem is, that it requires a strength which I don't always posses. It's at these times, I tend to go into a sort of hibernation until it passes.
Otherwise, I run the risk of seeing, in my mind's eye, that look on my brother's face.