I was preparing for a local presentation I would be doing soon to celebrate April as a month that pays tribute to poets. As I stared at the wall of my office I started wondering if any poem I might have written had had any positive impact on this world. Then I noticed that beautiful plaque I received in 2002 from the National Safety Council bearing the emblem of The Distinguished Service To Safety Award. That award truly was based on my work that stemmed from a little poem I recited in one of my early morning sessions at the National Safety Congress in 1978. We had a full house at the Grand Ballroom of the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago and I was absolutely thrilled to have the honor of addressing that audience for three consecutive Early Bird presentations. This little verse was the start of the concept of workers signing a commitment for safety. I recited this verse and then it was in two safety publications and after that when I spoke for a major corporation I found this verse, signed by all of the workers hanging on the wall. I followed this up with a Declaration of Interdependence and many, many thousands of workers and corporate executives signed that commitment and we had some wonderful results in injury reduction. We edited the verse in time changing it to Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper; but here is the original.
My Brother’s Keeper
(c) Art Fettig 1978
I am my brother’s keeper…
His safety lies within my hands.
Oh, he must protect himself and that will help,
But all too often I find that I must protect him from himself.
He hurries sometimes or just plain forgets his safety glasses,
Or his helmet or he might forget to stop and look.
Or maybe he imbibes too much…
And yes, I am my brother’s keeper
And I warn him, and remind him,
And yes I care enough to send him home, if it’s required,
I’m that inspired.
I will fire a man with enthusiasm
For safety calls for firing up, reminding
And when all else fails, for firing.
I am my brother’s keeper and I care enough
To take a job today and send a man away…
Live and whole and possibly misunderstanding…
But that’s a price you sometimes pay
To be a brother’s keeper.
Yet I believe it is a loving trade.