I will be honest and tell you that if you asked me to name the 7 Deadly Sins, I would be able to guess maybe 4 of them. The word sin however, is not a word to be used casually and so I say it again,
Indifference is a sin.
And while it may not be one named in the Big Book, it is a sin in mine.
I went through a phase as a teenager as most of us did where being “too cool to care” was an acceptable way of being. Luckily that phase in my life was short lived, and I grew up and began to engage with passionate people who were excited to make a difference in the world. Sadly, my personal education on the matter of care seems to be in deep contrast to the indifference that plagues so many people in our culture.
Photo by Andrew Bossi, Flickr
What’s the big deal with indifference?
Indifference, or lack of interest or care, is a huge problem when poured over things that matter in the world around us.
First of all, indifference is self-centered and simplistic. It is easy to lack concern about something that isn’t affecting you right this very minute even if it is causing someone else suffering. It takes a much bigger person to see the ongoing implications around a given situation and care about the next steps if it won't affect their own personal life any time soon.
Second, the phrase “ I don’t care” is mostly complete bullshit.
Sorry for the strong language kids, but it is usually an out and out lie and we all know it. People pretend not to care all the time for many reasons both meaningful and petty. Sometimes caring hurts. Being invested in something deeply can leave you feeling raw when it comes to the big things in life. But pretending not to care is only mild blasphemy compared to the much darker shadow lurking behind that feigned indifference.
Pure indifference is the capital vice we really need to deal with if we want to change the world. True indifference is not simply putting up armor against the sting that comes with feeling care. True indifference doesn't mean that you lack the power to change things, it means you know you have the power to change things and simply choose not to.
This is the big, bad one and it is crucial we demolish it each and every time it rears its ugly little head.
I won’t tell you it is easy or that any of us are ever going to get rid of indifference once and for all. But to fight this battle (and we must) means we need to care more than ever, both deeply and continuously.
On the way you might find that you are faced with having to make big changes or even sacrifice something you enjoy in the name of greater care. For instance, if you care about being healthy, you will have to back that up and put an end to destructive lifestyle choices. If you care about being an inspiration and a game changer, you will have to let go of the parts of your life that contradict that vision and end relationships with people who don't respect it.
It looks very different in every case and it will no doubt be hard work, but if you open up to the very motivating power of deep care, you can go from being a casual observer in this world, constantly tossed around in the tides of circumstance, into a force of nature all your own.
It takes courage not only to let in care, but also power to do something about whatever it is we see. To quote Steve's moving poem from earlier this week, "The power is in you, it’s in all of us. If you believe it and do it, you’ve already won."