Consider for a moment how many times per day or week you issue the comment, “I don’t care.” If you are like most folks, you liberally suggest to individuals and the world that you have no interest in a subject, cause or event. Something recently motivated me to think about the messages implicit to “I don’t care.”
One obvious reality is that I would never make such a statement in the classroom. My kids tell me the name of their dad’s favorite football team, where their cousins were born and the birthday parties that they attended last month. A day ago, the subject of birthdays came up and I was advised of the birthdays of twenty-plus second graders.
Take it out of the classroom setting and the same rule applies. You’re on the phone with a long-distance relative who begins a description of the activities within the family, the neighborhood and the town in which they live. The first reaction is that you really don’t care about the Rotary pancake breakfast or the quilting program. But it’s just good sense and propriety not to suggest that the information is irrelevant – something implicit to not caring.
If that doesn’t hit home, think about what you’re saying when you indicate that you don’t care about the horrible fires in California. Or maybe you state that you don’t care about mass shootings in Las Vegas, Pittsburgh or El Paso. Is our society dominated by a population that simply doesn’t have interest in tragedies happening in their towns or somewhere else?
Because I value my kindergartener, I want to hear about her birthday. And because I treasure my cousin and sister-in-law, I am interested in the events large and small that surround them. Many of us have become cavalier about those statements or events that we deem to be unworthy of our consideration. The more important fact is that when we protest with, “I don’t care,” we are essentially indicating that we don’t cherish that person or have interest in his/her concerns.
For my part, I’m going to do whatever is necessary to delete the expression from my language. My goal is never to diminish another by my disinterest or lack of empathy. While I don’t care for everyone at all times, I do want those whom I impact to know that they are important. Shalom.
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