Thursday, June 16, 2011


What do you care about?  What matters to you?  The AIDS pandemic?  Deforestation?  Human trafficking?  Endangered species?  The exploitation of the poor?  Overfishing?  Violent dictatorial regimes?  Global warming?  Racism?  Women's rights?  Victims of natural disasters?  Victims of man made disasters?  Political & corporate opposition to the prevention of man made disasters?  Do you care about some of that or all of that?  Do you care about some more than others or do you care equally for them all?

All of these issues are constantly in your face, demanding your attention, demanding that you care.  If you consider yourself any kind of decent human being, it's like you're supposed to care or else you are implicitly admitting to being some kind of heartless monster!  I have a question though, is it even possible to care about everything worth caring about?  Maybe it's just me (I hope it's not but it's a distinct possibility) but I just don't have to capacity to care that much about that many things.

But is it just me though?  Does anyone have the physical and mental capacity to meaningfully care about everything that needs to be cared about?  Sure, I can be concerned about all those things and more.  I can even be opposed to all those nasty things in principle.  But can I care?  I don't mean in the hipster douchebag sense where you are totally "into" every bad thing du jour for about 5 minutes.  What does that accomplish besides giving you a smug sense of moral superiority and annoying the living shit out of everyone around you?  How is that even caring?!  If someone I care about is in trouble I show I care by trying to help, trying to make whatever is wrong better in whatever way I am able.  To me, that is what caring should look like, otherwise why bother?  Simply shaking your head with a sympathetic look may give you the warm fuzzies inside but it certainly won't do anything meaningful for those in need of care.

So I ask again, if really caring about an issue requires that you bleed for it, sacrifice your time and energy and resources and comfort in an effort to address the issue, how many things can you care about?  Everything?  Surely not!  Most things?  Unlikely.  A handful of issues?  Possible but even that would be pushing it.  Seems to me that if you want to care in a way that is at all meaningful you really need to pick your issues with care.

Am I wrong or does having to care about everything prevent any meaningful action?  I feel like I'm just so bombarded with good great, meaningful causes that I'm supposed to care about that I become overwhelmed by the sheer mass of it.  Overdosing on empathy feels a lot like paralysis to me.  Is there even a difference between overcare and zero care?  For all the good it does, it may as well be the same thing!

I don't mean to sound preachy.  Truth is, I suck at caring.  I tell myself it's because I'm currently rather low down on Maslow's pyramid but it's far more likely that I'm just not that caring a person.  I prefer to spend my time with escapism and humour rather than with the cruel realities of life in this world.  Caring about a cause takes a lot of effort for me.  But that is how it's supposed to be, isn't it?

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