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Brothers & Sisters

Most Honorable by Harper Kidder

Thursday, July 08, 2010 @ 3:29 PM

Every Thursday, my little brother visits me at my apartment for a few hours. Jordan is 19 now. He’s in college, studying for an Associate’s in veterinary science, and he had an internship at a local pet hospital last semester. However mature we both seem to be now, we still like to do stuff we did when we were kids, and yesterday we were playing Goldeneye 64, an old shooting video game based on the James Bond book and movie franchise. Jordan and I rode our bikes to the store all those years ago to buy it with money we made doing chores for Band of Angels, and it was a favorite to play against each other on rainy days. Jordan’s always been better than me at that game. In fact, I can’t think of a game I can regularly beat him at. Still, we’re as prone to sibling rivalry as any other brothers, and my girlfriend was watching me get killed over and over, so I got creative, snuck up behind where his character was standing, and fired. As his screen went red and the elegiac music played, Jordan shot me a glare and said “I was doing the right thing, waiting for you.”  When the game was over, the screen displayed an award for each player. Mine was ‘Most Frantic,’ but Jordan’s was ‘Most Honorable.’ I couldn’t believe how right that machine was.

            I’m an idealist, raised in an environment of activism and advocacy. As a child, I didn’t find heroes in the pages of comics books, but in the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Che Guevara, and Dr. King. And, sometimes, X-Men. But the will to do good has always burned within me, and Jordan ‘dying’ for doing what he thought was right struck something inside me. There is a classic English maxim known as Occam’s Razor, which states that when there are many different ways to reach the same end, the simplest solution is the wisest choice. Wisdom through simplicity. It could be Jordan’s motto. He was born with a tremendous burden, which he will carry with him his entire life: the undying need to make a difference. It is an heirloom in my family, and it can be difficult to deal with when the world’s injustice seems to be too much. But Jordan was also born with a gift, hiding just out of sight. For all that can be said about Down syndrome as a negative condition affecting the mind and body, I still marvel at the good it can do for an individual. Most of the people in the world are fundamentally good, yet we rarely achieve good deeds to the extent we wish we could. We have so much worry, such great consciousness of worldly things, so many nagging thoughts about the impracticality of being radical, of breaking from the way things are done. While that extra chromosome may stop Jordan from doing 2-digit multiplication without a calculator, it also stops him from caring about the insignificant things that hold us back. When Jordan sees an injustice, he tries to right it. When he sees sadness, he provides joy, creating hope. He sees a problem in the world, and he just takes care of it, without concerns or second thoughts. It’s the simplest solution, and I have just recently realized that it is without a doubt the wisest. Nothing will change unless we step up to it. No injustice will stop unless we stand our ground against it. It doesn’t matter what your position is, what you’re fighting for, what the world you want to see looks like. What matters is the act of doing something. You’ll feel better. The people around you will be inspired. The world will see that there are people who are good, people who care for each other.

I talk with my mother a lot, and she often has a story of a child somewhere, with Down syndrome, or autism, or just having a hard time. Whether struggling in school, at work, or at home, I have heard people’s stories and been moved, and wished there was something I could do. The next time I hear a story like that, I’m going to do something about it. I’m not going to wonder what the best route is, or what the ramifications might be. My will has been mitigated by torpor for far too long, and I won’t let it happen again. I often think of how much I’ve done, how much Cynthia’s done, how much the supporters of Band of Angels have done, and I lost track of how much Jordan has done. We fight, and we write, and we advocate and sign IEP’s, but we get weary, and we wish we could take a break. We’re air support in this fight, and Jordan is the front line, and he never takes a break. He talks to other kids with Down syndrome. He gets involved in politics. He gives money to the poor and volunteers at soup kitchens. And in a couple years, he’ll be working at a veterinary clinic, making sure that a sick dog gets well enough to go back to his best friend. If I had awards to give out, Jordan’s would definitely still be ‘Most Honorable.’

I know that doing the right thing is often harder than we’d like it to be, but we all have to start somewhere. We all figure it out along the way. As for me, when I finish writing this, I think I’ll write a letter to my Congressman. Then I’ll help my little brother with his homework.

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