Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

One world-wide family

Siblings. Many of us have them – younger or older brothers and sisters of the same family blood as we are.

Along with the territory of having siblings come the relationships that you form with them. Throughout your life, the relations you carry on with your siblings may be one dimensional or multi-layered.

At one time or another, you probably despised your sibling in a way only siblings can understand. Your younger sibling was too whiny. Your older sibling was too bossy.

Other times, there is nothing more that you want than to just sit and talk with your sibling, especially after a bad day. You want someone who understands in a different way than your friends.

That is the outline of sibling relationships at the most basic level. However, we live in a world where most things are not basic. The world that we live in is a complex one. The answers may not always be clear cut. The same goes for sibling relationships.

What if your brother or sister gets sent to jail? What if they have something like depression? What if they have cancer? Does the relationship change? It can, but it doesn’t have to.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is a complex question with many complex answers that differs from each person.

It is this question that is the driving force behind the movie “My Sister’s Keeper” starring Abigail Breslin, Sofia Vassilieva and Cameron Diaz. I will not go into the finer points of the plot, but one of the main themes of the movie, based on the novel by Jodi Picoult, is how each person is individually effected by teenager Kate Fitzgerald’s cancer. While the story focuses on how Kate’s sister, Anna, tries to win the right to her own body instead of being used to save her sister through operations, it is really a story about different perspectives.

From what I know, sibling relationships do not have to be different just because there is an obstacle that others may not have to encounter. This certainly is not true for everyone, but these obstacles can draw you and your sibling closer together.

Though my older brother, Joe, may have physical and intellectual disabilities, I do not consider him to be different. Joe is one of my best friends as well as being my older brother.

Even though we have different circumstances that we must encounter and work around, our sibling relationship is the same as any pair of brothers.

We get mad at each other. We both have habits that make the other cringe. We even have brotherly fights occasionally. We are also very close. We enjoy each other’s company. We know how to make each other laugh and how to have a good time together.

Not a day goes by in my life where I don’t wonder what conversations I would have with Joe if he could speak. However, we do speak to each other, in a way, through our emotions. Despite the fact that we have never had a true back and forth verbal conversation, I feel that Joe is the one who understands me like no one else in the world.

A lesson Joe has taught me is to accept people for who they are, not who you want them to be. This is not a lesson that is limited to sibling situations, but situations in everyday life all over the world. If you think about it, it is the basis of relationships and friendships.

In the course of day to day life, there may be differences. But in the nature of how you view a person, there does not need to be a change. We all share the same common love of life. We are all one as inhabitants of this earth.

On the day to day basis, there may be things that have to be done differently. You may have to take the responsibility of being a personal care attendant. You may have to sit by that hospital bed to comfort your loved one or visit a nursing home to be with your loved one. There are obstacles in life, yes. No one said that life was going to be easy. There are simply forces in this world that we cannot control.

However, what we can control is how we treat people. Whether it be a sibling or a stranger, treating a person with respect is the greatest honor you can do for an individual.

The reason why the sibling relationship is so complex and personal is that it is personal. Your brother or sister is not just another person on the street. They are of your family blood and family name.

When something happens to a sibling, it affects your life as well as theirs. While something may be different, that does not mean that they are different. We are all humans. In the end, our similarities vastly outweigh the differences.

Matt Kushi is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].

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    muad'dibOct 22, 2009 at 5:34 am

    If you really subscribe to that “we’re all humans” crap, you’ve never met someone who was truly and properly different from you. How far have you ever actually been from your home?

    Also, it means you’ve never been assaulted by a Twilight fan dressed up as a vampire and trying to bite your neck. Some people are *really* different.