“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

I have at times longed for brotherhood. True brotherhood. Horizontal in nature. Not holier-than-thou brothers who deem themselves my mentor. For that is “vertical brotherhood.”

Not a father. Brotherhood.

Not another brother who thinks himself to be my spiritual superior. Not a brother who cannot understand that all men have faults and sins. True brotherhood that seeks to mend.


The kind that does not kick another brother while he is down. Does not envy. Does not wish for another brother’s demise. Nor rejoices at his fall. All for one. One for all.

Brotherhood. The safety of a company of men around whom I can think out loud — without judgment. Depend. True brotherhood.

Not puffed up. Without religiosity. Without pomposity. Devoid of cliques. Not slick.

Brotherhood. That understands “we” are in this together. That we are not enemies. That by our hand, or tongue, we can choose either to murder or uplift. That Father Time soon will sift us all.

Brotherhood. Not contingent on social pedigree. Not on titles or how much money one makes. But rooted in the common dirt of creation of which all men are made. Knit as mankind by the common breath of life the Creator gave.

Brotherhood. Not like the “saved” brother-preacher I’ve known since childhood. Who now walks past me without acknowledgment — now as “Pastor,” “Bishop,” or something or other. Putting on airs rather than simply being “brother.” Changed since we moved to the burbs from the hood. Acting now like I’m so “bad” and he’s so “good.”

Or the brother “elevated” to the “church leadership” crew. So now he treats me sideways like some “church folk” do.

Or the “brother” who thinks he’s “Father Superior.” And I am his spiritual stepchild. Except I still remember when we were both young and wild.

Or the brother who wouldn’t give a dime to another brother lying on his deathbed. Not one cent for a window air conditioner so he might have some place cool to lay his head. Not one ounce of compassion for his fellow man in his last days. Except I never saw a dead man take his riches to his grave.

Fallible we are. Imperfect by far. No matter how great our climb. No matter how high we soar. We arrive upon the wings of success and glory only to be abhorred.

Minimized by critics who think “they” know who we are. They scour every ounce of our lives near and far. Then couch our mistakes as the sum of the man. Stand blind to the hypocrisy in their own pen.

But I guess that’s just the way the world spins. Especially for brothers. Especially black men.

Donate a million dollars, and they’ll surely search for some miniscule chink. Touch the sky like Obama, and they’ll hate you ’cause you can speak and think.

Rise and fall like Jesse Jr., and they’ll write your inglorious epitaph. So quick to discard us like yesterday’s trash.

Throw shade on your shine. Magnify your mistakes. John Fountain is not exempt. I face the same fate.

It’s like that. I wish it were not. It all serves to remind me that “we” are all “we” got.

Except I find myself nowadays, staring through years past like a smoke-filled haze. Trying hard not to be amazed or completely dazed. That in this phase of life I find “brothers” few and far between. And “true brotherhood” not often seen.

And yet, I am grateful for the few in my life. Brothers in this struggle. Black and also white. True brotherhood. Horizontal in nature.

No big I’s. One Savior.

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Email: Author@johnwfountain.com