What if I told you that in an ironic twist, not caring about other people has actually made me much more accepting of those different than me?
You might find that odd, but think about it: if somebody is wearing an “I hate God” T-shirt, that incendiary slogan will often be enough of a trigger to get complete strangers to give helpful, politically correct fashion advice. It isn’t a T-shirt I would wear, but I’m also not compelled to tell a total stranger what to do simply because they came into my vision space wearing a slogan I don’t agree with.
But isn’t that exactly what happens when people approach others to give unsolicited advice or opinions?
For years, some people would see a guy with long hair and call him a “hippie.” Instead of being just Bob, son of Mike and Joan, he’s a draft-dodging, pot smoking, anti-establishment peacenik who needs to have some sense pounded into his head. The mere sight of hair below a male’s neck is enough to get the blood pressure boiling. I don’t have long hair, heck I’m holding onto any hair I can keep these days, but if somebody else wants to look like an 1980s heavy metal rocker, I just don’t care.
I also don’t have any tattoos, but don’t really care enough to tell the guy with two arms of cougars and dragons about the curative benefits of deleting ink from one’s skin. It seems almost un-American these days not to be offended by things – and post about it on Facebook.
Why do I not care? It’s not because I’m selfish or unfeeling. I don’t care because I’m not prone to predisposed judgments. The other week, I saw two men pushing a stroller. I then observed an older woman approach them and talk about the destruction of family values. So much caring and wild assumptive work has to go into such an exchange. What if they were just two friends taking an infant out for a walk? What if they weren’t? Why should anyone care enough to lecture a couple of strangers over it?
Now that I think about it, maybe I am just more accepting. I mean I’m pretty close to family and if my child, niece or nephew told me they’re gay, I could berate them for being different, lecture them on a Bible passage and shut them out of my life. But that would completely obliterate the love and care I’d had for them up to that point.
Don’t laugh. Absurd as that sounds, in 2016 there are a lot of people who think that’s exactly the type of response one should have.
Scott Cost: firstname.lastname@example.org