When I was a kid, I cared about everything.
I was called “crybaby” by my peers and told to grow up.
When was a journalist I cared about the people I met.
I was told to be “impartial.” (What the hell anyway? Seeing someone oppressed or hurting shouldn’t make me feel “impartial”!)
When I got married I cared about politics and social justice.
I was told I was wrong, that those weren’t really injustices. I got sucked into the kind of intellectualism that completely discounts feelings and compassion. These were the cool people, the policy wonks, the economic savants. They “really” understood how things worked. I was told that if I was smart and I really understood politics and economics, that I would see that things were the other way round … that the people taking advantage of the poor and hoarding wealth were just “playing the game well.”
I am smart. I do understand.
And they don’t.
It took me more than 10 years to believe that, another three years or so to say that. I may not be an Ayn Rand fan, a trickle-down economics aficionado. But, I’m a business owner. I get it. I understand that a true salesperson is just a helper, who helps people get what they want. Who provides value, and solutions
I picked up a compendium of sales advice a few years back, and I read it in every once in a while. Donald J. Trump’s advice is the most clueless and worthless in the book. Not surprisingly, it’s all pomp and bluster. In fact, I almost threw away the book when I read it — and this is before he ever announced his campaign for President.
Caring. Since when did it become so uncool to care that a popular retailer would create a jacket just based on NOT caring? Leaving aside the person who most famously wore this jacket, why does it exist in the first place? I really don’t get it.
I remember when I was in high school. Caring was the coolest thing going. This wasn’t the “I feel your pain” Clinton administration either. It was Ronald Reagan’s 80s. A Republican in charge. But caring was the thing. We cared about Apartheid. We sang “We are the World.” We had “Hands Across America.”
What happened to us?
On election night, 2016, I realized it had gone far enough, at least with me. I began my own personal journey back. So, I can tell you a little bit about how the journey back went for me. And it started with this:
“It’s okay to care.”
Until that night, I didn’t believe in my caring. I didn’t trust my caring — I had been taught NOT to. I had been sucked into the materialistic, me-first world of the people who surrounded me.
It’s okay to care. I know that now. I also know that there’s so much to care about. We’ve gone so far, we’ve lost so much to the uncaring, that caring can seem overwhelming.
But if we all picked at least one thing to care about, and worked towards that, what would happen?
I want to find out.
If you talk to me, I’m going to find out what you care about. I want to know. I want you to know. Because not caring is not human.
We’re better than that.