Who Cares?

Back in high school our senior class (250 boys) was known as lazy, shiftless, and uncooperative. We were proud of that reputation and tried mightily to resist any temptation to render a “positive influence on the school”.

We had a class motto that was short but conveyed our message. . . “Who Cares?”. It was all a put on of course. We cared a lot. We worried a lot (Viet Nam was calling many of us). We wanted our lives to be different than our parents but we didn’t know what or how.

So what’s a teenager do when he or she is scared, lost, or clueless? You get cynical. “Who Cares?” Don’t let ’em see you caring.

So this little piece is about “caring”, caring for others. (There doesn’t seem to be any lack of our caring for ourselves, as I’ll explain). Our concern is to examine what makes people care about anything other than themselves.

First off I’d say, outside immediate family and friends, nobody cares. The natural repose of the human heart is to stay at home, make oneself comfortable and shut out the world and its need. Philosophers and Psychiatrists tell us that humans are hard wired to care about others only to the degree that it will serve their own interests. This is not evil or immoral; it’s just the way we are. I think it’s one of many effects of the “survival instinct” and Original Sin. Or as we’ve said before, the “What’s in it for Me? Factor”.

There are thousands of examples of this. Here’s one.

The phone rings and it’s your brother-in-law. He’s had another bad job interview. There’ll be no second interview. As usual, he wants to talk about how he just can’t catch a break and how unfair things are.

“I’m sorry.” you say. But you’re not really. You say a few generalities (“hang in there” or “You’ll do better next time.”) to avoid saying what you really think. To do that would only cause you problems down the line.

Think about it, why are we nice (a version of “caring”)? Most times it’s because it serves our own interest.

There’s less hassles from others when you’re nice. People will like you more when you’re nice to them. You can get people to do what you want them to when they think you care.

Even our most altruistic caring hides a benefit to our- selves and is our real motivation. You see human love wants to “possess”, “To have and to hold” as the wedding vows say. God loves differently. God’s love is total giving.

Jesus came to show us God’s way of loving. Here are some of his instructions.

++ If someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat as well. Mt. 5:40

++ When you give money to someone, don’t do it in a way that people will find out and praise you. Do it cheerfully and secretly. Mt. 6:1.

++ Want to really care? Sit down and think what you would want someone to do for you in that situation. Then do it for them. Mt. 7:12

++ Want to really care? No greater love exists than when a man or woman lays down their life for their friend. Jn. 15:13 “Not my will Father, but thine be done.” Mt. 26:42

++ Try this for caring . . . “when someone strikes you on the right check, turn the other one to them as well.” Mt. 5:39

So where do we get the motivation (what’s in it for me?) to care in these selfless ways? It comes from having been loved in this way ourselves. And who has loved us this way? Hopefully our parents (but only imperfectly) and oh yeah . . . God has loved us in this way. His only motivation is what God is. And what is God? Infinite Love. . . as revealed in Jesus Christ.

Once you’ve been touched by this love, you want to give back. And suddenly you’ve entered the mystery of real love.

It takes a lifetime . . . I’m just starting to get it. God is a patient lover.

Fr. Tim