Is it Possible to Care Without Completely Understanding?
There’s an old cartoon that features a young boy standing at the foot of his father’s chair and asking his father, “What’s the difference between apathy and ignorance?” Without looking up from his newspaper his father replies, “I don’t know…and I don’t care.”
We’re focusing our discussion currently on what it means to care…more specifically that perhaps it requires a bit of intelligence to grow in our capacity to understand the perspective of others. If you accept that premise…that we care more when we understand more…the question remains, “how far does one take the need for knowledge?”
Does the former drug addict care more for the person facing challenges of his/her former self? Does it take someone who has financially lost it all or faced difficult news from a doctor to understand the plight of the poor or the sick? Does it require personal experience in order to relate to someone and does relating to others lead to greater caring?
For the sake of discussion, I propose that it does not.
Greater understanding of the perspective of others is no doubt of tremendous benefit, but it does not necessarily catalyze increased caring. Likewise, greater caring for others should not imply that we necessarily embrace what others deem as legitimate experience. I can care for others without condoning. I can do so…not of my own accord…but according to the presence of the Spirit in my life.
Because of the Spirit, I can care even when feelings run contrary. Because of the Spirit I can expend my energy and resources without consequence of return. Because of the Spirit I can relate to the root cause of the common condition of humankind as I see my condition in light of it. My demographic profile might be quite different from another…the base condition of my flesh is very much the same.
Do we care at Breakfast Church? That is our ambition. Do we understand? Hopefully…not always…maybe? Therein resides the tension that is ministry in our American context. In many ways, there’s no place else that we would rather be.