“These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Someday you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn to be
Brothers in arms
Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I’ve witnessed your suffering
As the battle raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms
There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones
Now the sun’s gone to hell and
The moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line in your palm
We are fools to make war
On our brothers in arms”
The song is about the overwhelming sadness that despite our shared humanity we just don’t seem to be able to get along with each other despite the observation that in the greater scheme of things are similarities far outweigh our differences.
Finally I believe that there is a note of regret that we do not seem to apply this sense of loyalty, courage and love to the good of all humanity.
Irony (from Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning ‘dissimulation, feigned ignorance’ in its broadest sense, is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or event in which what appears, on the surface, to be the case, differs radically from what is actually the case. Irony may be divided into categories such as verbal, dramatic, and situational.
Verbal, dramatic, and situational irony are often used for emphasis in the assertion of a truth. The ironic form of simile, used in sarcasm, and some forms of litotes can emphasize one’s meaning by the deliberate use of language which states the opposite of the truth, denies the contrary of the truth, or drastically and obviously understates a factual connection.
Tonight just as i was supposed to leave for an evening of literature with a journalist whose brother and his family were murdered brutally a few years ago,i began to write about my own brother, and the only word i could come up with was irony.
“My father”, my 21 year old nephew a soldier born on the same day as me and who is serving in the same army unit as i served, tells me”Is the gentlest and most humble man i know”, I , his aunt, on the other hand is accused of all sorts of crimes amongst them NOT CARING; but the irony is that the entire time i was living in Europe far from the family , my brother went with his family on organised trips, a luxury item on anyone’s budget, travelled to ski lodges , there was nothing he could not afford and of course our mother, the goose who laid the golden eggs, had paid , thinking she has to pay for his services, my brother is a handyman , he can repair things and actually as a child, i never could discover whether i could even change a light bulb, there was my brother repairing everything, connecting the tv for the entire building and mostly making money from the services he gave to my mother, a widow who was left a heft sum, and my late father’s aunt, another widow who had lost a son, a pilot, at the age of my nephew, in a military accident, crashing into a mountain.
According to our proclaimed shared religion orphans and widows have special regard, and my brother would be quick to arrive with his tool set and in return for all those services and driving my mother to family dinners, he would receive unlimited tickets to skiing trips, travel across Europe with guides, the newest sport shoes for the boys, jewellery for the women folk. I know this because my mother had told me and i did not mind, i did not think there was any reason for jealousy, i was after all , the one focused on other worlds”there’s so many different worlds”, “We have just one world but we live in different ones”, sings Mark Knopfler of the Dire strait,a man of our tribe, our proclaimed shared belief.
Growing up my brother was a typical boy getting into fights sometimes, and whenever anything did not suit him, he had a quick temper, a trait he had shared with our late mother, they became partners in business, the inheritance, the golden egg keeper despite lacking any moral code or any feeling anything was above him, he has what the Greeks call Hubris;Hubris , also hybris, from ancient Greek ὕβρις) describes a personality quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence. In its ancient Greek context, it typically describes behavior that defies the norms of behavior or challenges the gods, and which in turn brings about the downfall, or nemesis, of the perpetrator of hubris.
C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity that pride is the “anti-God” state, the position in which the ego and the self are directly opposed to God: “Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
In Israeli slang a person like my brother is called a person without God, who thinks he is above everything.
I always sought a spiritual life, to follow a tradition, i went to my maternal grandparents during an important decade, the ages of 13 to 23, till my grandmother had passed away, at which point an aunt who had lived in a distant town and only showed up during holidays, had taken over my grandparents apartment along with the maiden aunt and an uncle who lives in london, they took over, they got the inheritance , what was left of the wealth of an elderly religious couple who got compensation from the Germans for a business and had lived a humble simple religious life. I was cut off, not only was i not mentioned, despite the fact i was the only visitor my grandparents had ever had on Friday nights and the only listener to my grandmother’s detailed accounts of the holocaust that had taken away her 6 siblings and their spouses and most of the children , but i did not mind, i did not mind at all, till the aunt who had lived in a distant town and was very wealthy thanks to an ambitious engineer she had married, she then spread a rumour i had entered my grandmother’s apartment after her death and took things. Of course i know that was not true , my mother took a menorah and my grandfather’s blessing cup and the silver knife he used to cut the special sabbath bread i had shared , but i did not consider that act as injustice, nor did i question her giving my brother everything . I was treated as a second class citizen, i was unmarried, undecided on a career, floating amongst book stores, working in translations and teaching English from time to time, i was not considered worthy of an inheritance, i was a wandering jew.
Years later when i got married and divorced, and left on my own with three children to raise abroad, my brother and sister never once came to visit. I would come to visit my mother every year and she would come to stay with us, always bringing some kitchen utensils and children’s books, i had requested, and some clothes. I knew she was giving my sister money since she had divorced twice, and i also knew i could not do anything about my mother’s decisions, she was a stubborn person who had lost faith in God, except i had found a diary where she had written appointments , it said “Called the Rabbi” , then two days later “The rabbi did not call back”, the rest of the days were left without any notes, she had passed away.
A friend of mine says i am too preoccupied with my brother and sister and things i can not undo, i am seeking now to argue the will, he had changed, taking an ill woman, i know now had suffered from a stroke , and was probably unable to make decisions to a lawyer to change the will in his favour. My brother who was the only one living next to our mother had left her living all alone in her apartment. Soon, i was told, our mother was supposed to move in to the new villa, a three story house, my brother and his wife had build, but the rooms were ready so what was holding up the move?
I was not consulted, i was not told my brother was made a financial partner and allowed to make all decisions .
The irony is that not only did my brother and sister empty my mother’s safety deposit box in the bank where one keeps expensive jewellery , my sister confessed claimed her mental illness had prompted this behaviour. She claimed she stole things. The irony was that i had not contested the will because all those years of being the black sheep, the one no one considers worthy of consulting about anything, years of marriage to a man who did not consult me on any decision, not even on where to go on vacation , made every decision, kept a separate bank account , and finally got every piece of furniture we had accumulated , including the bed he bought when we got married, i guess i was prepared to be the one who stands by while others grab, fill their pockets, stuff themselves in an orgy of taking, while i just stand by and watch.
The bible is full of tales of feuding brothers and tonight just as i was about to attend an evening of literature by a man whose brother and his brother’s family had been mercilessly butchered, the dogs began to fight, one dog threatened the other over bones, one dog buries her bones in the couch, the other dogs and eats everything she sees, not thinking the other dog has a right to anything edible, everything is mine, the larger dog seems to be saying, having spent too many months locked up in a cage in a dog shelter, she grabs what she cans.
Brothers can grow up together and share a mother and father and still come out of this experience with a completely different attitude but how much irony there is , i thought, to meet a man whose brother was brutally butchered, while my brother is very much alive, with only his moral compass completely nonexistent , missing in action, or never was to begin with, thinking only about himself and not even considering the repercussion of being a role model of money grabbing, parent abandoning, brother feuding, and of course denying and projecting one’s own bad behaviour on the injured party, denying any injury and claiming to be the injured party and even being in a state of poverty.
The irony is that my brother who says he is in debts and poor, is right, he is very poor indeed, poor in moral convictions , poor in an ability to treat anyone in kindness including his own mother who had given him so much material possessions but so little teaching of the heart and the spirit that separated a human being from an animal in the jungle fighting for survival and territory .
The esteemed Rabbi Kook states that there is no evil but there is a distance from God, and perhaps there is a choice we make, whether we seek certain values of humanity and consideration of others or whether we choose not to care about anyone but ourselves and then cover it up with denial and accusations .
Our lives are the sum of the choices we make, said Albert Camus, and in “the stranger “, he had described well, how one can fall, and sometimes i think that despite attempts to group people together in nations and families, basically some people will always be strangers because of the choices they make to behave like strangers to other people, choosing violence instead of peace whenever possible.
Here’s to the spirit of brotherhood of all beings and their God given right to live a pain free life without violence.