Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why should you care? What's it to you?

"People who say they don't care what people think are usually
desperate to have people think they don't care what people think."
- George Carlin

Carlin's comedy revolves around finding quirks of human nature then making fun of them in our faces. This observation, however, has an undertone of fear. The fear of not being liked.

It's true that people who really don't care what other people think don't make an issue of it publicly. The reason, by its own deduction, is that they don't care enough to tell anyone.

The others do care what people think. This group would be divided into those who express their care, such as the people who take offence at something that is mentioned in a article that has nothing to do with them personally, and those who deny caring.

Those who deny caring were raised in families where they were taught that it is important what other people think of you. The "others" define your reputation.

They were taught that it was important to be nice to the teacher because misbehaving might cause the teacher to grant a poor grade or to give less personal attention.

They were taught to be nice to everyone in their peer group because it was important to make friends. These people became disillusioned adults when they discovered that some people are inconsolably mean or bitter and some are just plain not worth having as friends.

This human characteristic, like others involving human behaviour, is one of the hardest to shake as an adult. I find it hard, for example, to turn away from someone who has been intentionally hurtful to me, though I know that it's the best thing I could do for myself.

Bullies know how to attract the attention of their victims.

Harder still is not stepping in to defend someone who has been deliberately hurt, often without due cause, especially if that person is not capable of defending herself or himself.

Some people are not worth caring about, if they are hateful, hurtful, bitter or mean.

And yet, we must avoid teaching our children not to care about what others think of them. It's how they will survive in the working world. It's how they will learn compassion for others. It's how they will become people who matter to the world.

Caring about what others think of us goes along with caring about the welfare of others. It doesn't make sense in terms of business ethics, but it's usually true. We should be able to separate the two. Many people can't keep them separate.

It follows that people who care most about others, who show the most compassion toward others who need guidance from a mentor or who need help in a time of need, likely have suffered many times from the abuse of nasty people.

They are quiet heroes in ways few others but themselves understand.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to make sense of the confusion that sometimes dominates our lives.
Learn more at

No comments: