Am I my brother’s keeper?
The question, from Genesis 4:9, is as relevant today as it was when the world was created. And here is why.
Eleven days ago, a 14-year-old autistic African-America boy named Avonte Oquendo vanished from his school in Long Island City. He was not kidnapped. He simply ran away, and he wasn’t noticed until he had disappeared into the vastness of New York City.
This is our worst nightmare. Our 1-year-old autistic son, Harrison, also has run away. He has jumped from the bay window in our living room and run naked on a busy street while we slept.
Young Avonte cannot speak to tell anyone he is lost. Neither can our little Harry. Worse still, these boys appear perfectly normal, so no adult would even think something is amiss if they passed each other on the street.
We write now for two purposes. The first is to raise awareness of autism in our community. It is not just one of a dozen or more twisted ribbons you see on the backs of minivans. There is no peace for families of autistic children, who are flight risks and cannot communicate. Secondly, we ask that you remember this young man’s face, particularly those of us who commute for work to New York City. And here’s why: Am I my brother’s keeper? No, I am not.
We are all our brothers’ keepers.