Let me tell you why to care. This is the premise of many articles on every topic imaginable, from global items like the environment, the sex trade, or poverty, to localized issues like First Nations rights, Syria, or censorship in China. Why do some of these end up catching our attention more than others? And why should we care about any of these issues at all?
To answer, let’s do a thought experiment. Think about a person you love who has been in your life for more than a year. This person has shaped you and affected your life for the better, but it’s been challenging as well. There have been times that you have not seen eye to eye. Maybe you’ve weathered a difficult time together: the loss of a loved one, a terrible fight, or even just the natural drifting apart that happens at some point in every relationship. Your emotions are engaged with this person.
Caring about an issue is like caring about a person. You care because you have an emotional attachment. The things we care about are important to us, even if objectively there is no value in something. A teddy bear from childhood, a sticker on a lunchbox, a weathered old copy of your favourite book. You attach value to these things, even if it seems like junk to others.
Now think of a topic that lights a fire under you. Maybe it’s the sex trade, or maybe it’s accountable local government, or maybe even the Western Protestant church. You may not have realized it, but you are in a relationship with this issue much like the one you thought of earlier. You have well-researched and informed opinions on it. You understand the contributing factors that have created the issue and you desire to make it better. Through your engagement with the issue, you’ve been changed and shaped as well. Though you may hate the current state of affairs, what motivates you to action is the conviction that things can change for the better. You’re passionate. You have an emotional attachment to the issue.
We care because we love.
Yet it is so easy to become cynical. The number of issues to care about in the world is almost beyond counting. A quick glance over today’s headlines adds a couple more to the list. It is overwhelming. Yet people still find things to care about:
“The state of the arts in North America needs revitalization. Let’s do something!”
“The Protestant churches I’ve experienced don’t reflect Christ; things need to change.”
“The sex trade is the worst problem of our time. I’m going to take action.”
Each of these positions results from an understanding and a love for the history of each of these things, not from a position of cynicism.
When a person you love goes through a rough time, you don’t abandon the relationship; you fight to get them back because you know how amazing they are. You understand their problem and what it stems from, but it doesn’t drive you away. And when the problem is dealt with, you both end up better for it.
Though we may never truly, deeply care about every issue, we can care for the ones we love. As you begin to care, you discover that behind your passion to see the world change for the better is a love for humanity. We value the environment because we imbue it with intrinsic worth and because we desire for our children to receive an unspoilt world. We care about those in the sex trade because we empathize with their humanity. We believe that humanity can be better. The Christian worldview is that Jesus came to earth and died so that humanity can be redeemed. The most Christ-like moment is found in acting on the belief things can be changed. This is why we should care: humanity is worth fighting for.
It’s easy to dismiss our ability to enact change for the things we care about. But true love isn’t about cynicism or despair; it’s found in the little moments of small decisions. The things and people you care about make you who you are. They are worth your time and effort. Why should we care? Because the whole of human history is bound in the choices of men and women who cared enough to allow their passions change their worlds for the better. The world does not need more apathy; it needs your passion, your effort, and your care.