The world often seems divided between those who care and those who don’t care enough, but don’t judge too harshly. It takes courage to care greatly. It does take courage to care, to fling open your heart and react with sympathy or compassion or indignation or enthusiasm when it is easier - and sometimes safer - not to get involved. But people who take the risk, who deliberately discard the armour of indifference, make a tremendous discovery: the more things you care about, and the more intensely you care, the more alive you become.
If you look closely at the marvelous tapestry of living, you will see that the shining thread of caring runs through it all like a streak of golden fire. Caring or not caring can mean the difference between success and failure in a marriage, in a job, in every human relationship. “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,” said Emerson. And what is enthusiasm but passionate caring?
The Bible is full of the importance of caring. The Good Samaritan is concerned about the victim of the robbers, so he acts. The other travellers were afraid that if they acted they might get into trouble, “passed by on the other side.” Conversely, what got the Prodigal Son into trouble was not caring. He didn’t care what he did to himself, or how his behaviour affected others. But his father cared - and kept on caring. And this was the salvation of the boy, because when he finally hit bottom, he knew where to turn. “I will arise,” he said, “and go to my father.” What the Bible seems to be saying is that if you take this one ingredient out of life, nothing has much meaning.
Over and over again in our workaday world we see how caring counts. A famous jeweller once sold a magnificent ruby after one of his salesmen had failed to interest the customer. Asked how he did it, the jeweller said, “My assistant is an excellent man, an expert on precious stones. There’s just one difference between us. He knows jewels - but I love them. I care what happens to them, and who wears them. The customers sense this. It makes them want to buy - and they do.”
In such cases, of course, caring ultimately brings tangible reward, but the great philosophers and religious leaders have always taught this paradox: the most rewarding form of caring is caring without hope of reward.
Fortunately for mankind, the world is full of people who go quietly through life performing, as Wordsworth put it, “little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” The voluntary worker at the hospital, the neighbour who offers to take care of your children while you settle into a new house - such people have no ulterior motive and expect no recompense. They act because they care, and their actions -multiplied by millions - supply the force that keeps the human race moving upward from barbarism along the rocky path of evolution.
The capacity for caring is in each of us, but whether we expand it or let it diminish is largely up to us. It is not always spontaneous. Socrates was referring to this when he said, “Before a man can move the world, he must first move himself.” Many great artists have served long and difficult apprenticeships before they learned to love what they were doing. Many a person has had to work at a friendship before it became one.
One of the best ways to increase your capacity for caring is to express what you feel. People always caution: “Check your emotions.” “Control yourself.” “Don’t give way to your feelings.” But often such emotions are simply signs of caring, and if we repress them too relentlessly, the capacity for caring itself may be blunted or damaged. So work at it: the willingness to act, to approach, to be absorbed, and in the absorption to be fulfilled…
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” -Psalm 18:1-2