Another Super Bowl has come and gone.
I went to a Super Bowl party, but I did’t watch the game. In fact, I went to the party planning NOT to watch the game.
Because I didn’t care who won.
The people in my household root for Pennsylvania teams (and whoever is playing Dallas). So how was I supposed to choose between two teams from the other side of the country? I could have chosen a team based on which uniforms I liked best, or which team has fewer Super Bowls victories, or which team was the underdog, but none of those reasons are very compelling. So I skipped the football game and had an enjoyable evening playing word games with other people who didn’t care enough to watch the game. (I realize that this may blow the mind of you big sports fans, but some of us don’t particularly enjoy watching sports. Unless our kid is playing we really don’t care.)
It’s hard to get excited about something when you don’t care.
Not just for football games. I have been know to quit reading a book because I didn’t care about the main character. Or become bored with a movie because the characters were jerks and I didn’t care what happened to them.
Unfortunately, the truth applies to real people and real situations as well. If we don’t care about someone’s plight we’re not very likely to help. We know about those things we’re supposed to care about: human trafficking, hurricane victims, the poor without clean drinking water or sufficient food. But it’s difficult to get excited about generalities.
We’re much more likely to care about one specific person.
There are needy people all over the world. Poverty is too big to grapple with, too overwhelming. But give us a story about one person, in one situation, and we can relate.
That is one of the reasons journalists and authors and scriptwriters and directors and musicians go to work every day–to help us care about something, or someone. By telling us stories about individuals and their problems (even fictional ones), we begin to relate, and to care.
And maybe that will lead to action.
To care; perchance to act; ay, there’s the rub
So long as we keep all those suffering people at arm’s length, we don’t have to care. But get to know someone’s story and the game changes. When we come face to face with a situation that we can’t ignore, we begin to find ways to act.
Newspapers and magazines are full of stories about everyday people, including kids, who cared enough about something to act, and lives were changed, sometimes thousands of lives.
Some of you have your hands full caring for people you’re already involved with, but some of us have bandwidth left over. Maybe it’s time to open our eyes and be willing to care about someone. It could be a family member, or our next-door neighbor, or a total stranger.
Now I admit that I’m not too good at this. I’m an introvert. I don’t talk to strangers. I don’t even talk much to people I know. And thinking about disasters and social problems sends me withdrawing into my shell like a frightened turtle. But I can speak encouraging words, or do random acts of kindness, or send a card to someone I know is struggling.
And sometimes those little things are actually huge things.
So my challenge to you is to pay attention to the world around you, and find something, or someone to care about. Even if it’s not a football team.