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He's Not Heavy. He's Not Even My Brother.
December 23, 2010 2:40 PM   Subscribe

In keeping with the holiday spirit, a story of a teenage boy doing right by somebody else, just because he can.
posted by COD (32 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for that COD. I needed a shot in the arm.
posted by zerobyproxy at 2:52 PM on December 23, 2010


I love that this boy is doing this. It's absolutely wonderful. With the undertone of deep-seeded religion that this article has though, I cannot help but wonder why people can't just do nice things like this just because it's nice to do nice, generous things for people who need it and not because someone has told you that you must be this way or else? If the boy wasn't religious, would he have done this? Is he going to football practice because he enjoys football, or because it's what people expect of him?

I'm thinking too hard. Nice article.
posted by Malice at 3:05 PM on December 23, 2010


“Can I ask you something?’’ he said, sitting in the Parkers’ living room after Sammy was asleep. “Is it OK if this article is more about Sam than me?’’

This put something in my eye.

Uplifting, to coin a phrase. Rudy, you've minted it.
posted by chavenet at 3:06 PM on December 23, 2010


I love that this boy is doing this. It's absolutely wonderful. With the undertone of deep-seeded religion that this article has though, I cannot help but wonder why people can't just do nice things like this just because it's nice to do nice, generous things for people who need it and not because someone has told you that you must be this way or else? If the boy wasn't religious, would he have done this? Is he going to football practice because he enjoys football, or because it's what people expect of him?

Why not puzzle out every motivation for everything, while we're at it? If religion in this case results in good behavior, good on these folks' interpretation of it.
posted by Patbon at 3:12 PM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lovely. Thank you for posting this.
posted by salishsea at 3:16 PM on December 23, 2010


Such a beautiful, heartwarming story. COD, thank you.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:19 PM on December 23, 2010


Malice, it's "deep-seated."
posted by John Cohen at 3:19 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


My wife checked Boston.com before I did this morning and told me to read the story. I'm pretty cynical, but that warmed my heart.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:19 PM on December 23, 2010


Non-religious people absolutely do things like this. There are a couple of reasons that it's more likely to be a religious person, though:

First, non-religious people are a small percentage of the population of the US.

Second, hearing about a situation like this is much more likely to happen through a large social group, like a church. I would hear about it from my parents, who belong to a church, unless it was someone with whom I interact regularly.

He's a great person, religious or not.
posted by Huck500 at 3:24 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the boy wasn't religious, would he have done this?

You know what? I'll bet he would have. Good people are good people, kids included.
posted by usonian at 3:37 PM on December 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Great post title.

And:

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!
posted by bwg at 3:39 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


“He’s done more for me than I’ve done for him,’’ Rudy said. “There are times when I don’t want to go to practice, and then I look at Sam. By God’s grace, I can do what I’m doing, so I should keep it up. I’ve never been one to complain a lot, but just seeing Sam reaffirms everything, you know?’’

See, I just skip over the God's grace part, and figure that Rudy has a wise outlook on life for such a young man. If he needed religion to get that smart, fine, but it works just as well as wisdom without it.
posted by dabitch at 3:45 PM on December 23, 2010


Did it bother anyone else that they never explain how Sammy gets down the stairs every day? Did I miss that part?
posted by des at 3:55 PM on December 23, 2010


If the boy wasn't religious, would he have done this?

You know what? I'll bet he would have. Good people are good people, kids included.
posted by usonian


You know, I think so as well. He does seem like a good guy.

Why not puzzle out every motivation for everything, while we're at it? If religion in this case results in good behavior, good on these folks' interpretation of it.
posted by Patbon


I do often find myself thinking about the motivation behind most things, but it stems from my general interest in the psychology of human beings.

Malice, it's "deep-seated."
posted by John Cohen


Thanks, I wasn't sure, but I figured deep-seeded would be appropriate enough.
posted by Malice at 4:02 PM on December 23, 2010


Did it bother anyone else that they never explain how Sammy gets down the stairs every day? Did I miss that part?
posted by des


I was wondering that, but I just assumed one of the boys came over before school. Maybe the article writer just forgot to mention that part.
posted by Malice at 4:02 PM on December 23, 2010


Boy, that sure is cynical, Malice. I read that story this morning and the "religious" aspect of it didn't even register for me (an extremely lapsed Catholic). The only part of the story where it might indicate the kid is religious is when he says something along the lines "by the grace of God", but other than that, just because one attends a Catholic school doesn't mean he or she is religious or Catholic.

Anyways, great story, great kid.

Oh, and maybe dad can lift Sammy down the stairs but not up? I would think that going up would be a lot more difficult to manage.
posted by Sal and Richard at 4:08 PM on December 23, 2010


Did it bother anyone else that they never explain how Sammy gets down the stairs every day? Did I miss that part?

I just figured, well... gravity and all that... What? Stop looking at me like that.
posted by xedrik at 4:10 PM on December 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I suspect that the family gets skilled nursing care during the day, but are in their own after business hours.
posted by vespabelle at 4:17 PM on December 23, 2010


The photo is gorgeous. Thanks for this.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:21 PM on December 23, 2010


Did it bother anyone else that they never explain how Sammy gets down the stairs every day? Did I miss that part?

Maybe a Muslim charity built a cool spiral slippery dip that he rides down, but they couldn't mention that because it's Christmas and all.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on December 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


Maybe a Muslim charity built a cool spiral slippery dip that he rides down, but they couldn't mention that because it's Christmas and all

Man, that made me smile.
posted by John of Michigan at 5:02 PM on December 23, 2010


“Can I ask you something?’’ he said, sitting in the Parkers’ living room after Sammy was asleep. “Is it OK if this article is more about Sam than me?’’

Yeah, seriously, this. This made the whole article for me.
posted by Ruki at 5:11 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


wow. way to buzzkill on a heartwarming article, (some of) you guys.

here's hoping that we all have a rudy in our lives, and, more importantly, that we can all *be* a rudy in someone else's life.
posted by msconduct at 5:42 PM on December 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


In keeping with the holiday spirit, a story of a teenage boy doing right by somebody else, just because he can.

More accurately, someone asked him to do it, and he didn't refuse.

"Local teenager not an asshole"--this is news?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:27 PM on December 23, 2010


Yes, I wondered too why the child went downstairs, was it a two-story home, was he going to school? The writing was very good, but I think the editor had too many eggnog's. Great catch, COD.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 7:09 PM on December 23, 2010


I think a lot of stuff like this happens and we just don't hear about it. My grandpa goes to his friend's house twice a week and bathes him, because his friend is paralyzed. I only know about it because he's my grandpa. People are good to each other. Everyone around you has probably done something kind that you can't guess just by looking at them. Or so I like to think.
posted by prefpara at 7:31 PM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


With the undertone of deep-seeded religion that this article has though

Count me as one more who just didn't get that vibe from this. Young people who serve others without regard for self are often doing so just because they want to make their world better; there are even studies indicating that teens turn away from volunteerism that is urged by their church, because of the compulsory nature.

In other words, Rudy is helping the Parkers because he is Rudy, and it needs doing. God doesn't really seem to have much to do with it.
posted by pineapple at 7:36 PM on December 23, 2010


People wondering about how Sam gets downstairs have perhaps never carried a child up and down stairs. I assure you, it is much easier to carry a child downstairs. After a certain age (like, three), carrying a sleeping child upstairs is enough to make you never leave the house unless you are certain you'll be home before bedtime.
posted by padraigin at 7:38 PM on December 23, 2010


People help people out, and it isn't something you have to be an adult to want to do. I teach eleven-year-old boys, and although they can be obliviously selfish and thoughtlessly cruel to one another, they can also be extraordinarily kind--and faithful in that kindness. I have one little boy in my advisory this year, for instance, who tries his best to help his sister with chronic fatigue syndrome, and at school he is always there to help out the kid who struggles. It makes him happy. I try to protect him from doing it all, but he said, "That's okay. I don't mind."

Helping someone out nourishes you. I've belonged to a church or two and to a twelve-step program, and it's one of their secrets to success, but it's by no means confined to those organizations.
posted by Peach at 7:57 PM on December 23, 2010


"If the boy wasn't religious, would he have done this?"

When my philosophy classes get all up in each others' faces about believing in God or not believing in God, I ask the atheists, "What would you do differently if you found out, unequivocally, that God existed?" The answer is usually, "I guess I'd go to church on Sunday." Then I ask the Christians (the believers are almost all Christian where I teach), "What would you do differently if you found out, unequivocally, that God did not exist?" The answer is usually, "I guess I'd sleep in more on Sunday ... could I still go to church if I liked the singing?" "If you want." About half say they'd sleep in and be glad to blow off religious ed and similar; about half say they'd still attend a "church-like thing" for the sense of community, and a small number, who are almost always members of a local, very-conservative, denomination, say, "I might get a tattoo."

So I would say that, yes, if he wasn't religious, he probably still would have done it. Good people are good people, regardless of faith or lack thereof. Personally, what my faith teaches is ONE reason I try to do good things and be a good person, but there are many other reasons too that aren't faith-requiring.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:19 PM on December 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Helping someone out nourishes you.

This is especially true if they require assistance vis-à-vis being eaten.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:55 PM on December 23, 2010


This kind of thing is what I need to remember when I'm stuck in traffic behind the laggard who isn't keeping pace with the rest of the cars. It's not always easy to retain perspective, but I try to keep in mind that first, I am lucky to be able to get myself stuck in traffic, with all the rights, privileges, luck and other details inherent in that condition; and second, I might be stuck behind someone like Rudy, who is doing his or her best to make the world a better place, and who might be slower than other traffic because he or she is tired out from serving others.

Nah, who am I kidding. Bastards need to speed up or get out of the way.
posted by Graygorey at 12:22 AM on December 24, 2010


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