Why is it that people all of the time boast about how much they care? How many times is it confusing to hear that when their actions don’t seem to measure up to our standard of caring?
This conflict happens regularly and is never easily resolved. What does it mean to care?
As a noun, dictionary.com, defines care to be “a state of mind in which one is troubled” or “an object of worry” or “serious protection or attention” or “temporary keeping”. As a verb, dictionary.com, defines care to be “to be concerned, to have thought or regard” or “to make provision or look out for” or ” to have a liking or affection” or “to be concerned”.
Wow. Lots of possibilities. What struck me in reading these definitions is their serious, somber tone. In these many definitions, it also became clear to me, that caring can sometimes be hidden from others. Like when something is an “object of worry or to be concerned or to have thought or regard”. I consider this the passive definition.
So our conflict in trying to decide if someone cares, is built on the fact that their boasting of caring can be true (yet hidden) when someone says they worry or are concerned about a situation or person. Where the conflict arises, as an outside observer, do their actions match the passion of their boasts?
For caring to be more active, does the person have a track record of showing a serious interest to protect or to regularly give their attention for someone in need? Have they made provisions or looked out for someone in need? These commitments are more difficult to make and keep within our busy schedules.
For caring to become more active, our actions have to reflect what is deep in our heart. Caring must occur not only when needed but also when it is not asked of us towards people and organizations that we deeply value.
The sad part of passive caring, is that many use it as a power tool, to gain influence in conversations without ever putting in the work. When someone hides behind the passive definition of caring to impose their point of view on others. For those that have been actively caring, the loud passive caring person seems insincere. It’s as if they came late to the party and don’t understand the complexity of a situation or a person’s circumstance.
Passive caring is easy. Passive caring can be admirable but not very productive. We show little patience towards people who loudly proclaim they (passively) care because it is so much harder to actively care and accept the responsibility to care for someone or something on a regular basis.
Make sure you’re not one of them who boasts about caring yet fails to show up to help when needed before a crisis occurs.