“Why’s everybody giving me such a hard time?!”
“Because we care!”
– Cheetor & Optimus Primal, Beast Wars
Season 3, Episode 6, “Feral Cry, Pt. 2”
This is just a little snippet of conversation, really, but, as we were watching it together, I couldn’t help but tap my nephew on the shoulder and point and say, “See?”
Cheetor, at the moment, is trying to hide something new and unusual about himself, fearing what others will think. When his friend and superior presses the issue, out of concern, that’s when they have this little exchange.
It speaks to something I have long agreed with, and witnessed firsthand, and been on the receiving end of, namely that the attentions we so often resent, be they protective, disciplinary, or simply inquisitive, are often the result of genuine caring.
Yet I find that it is only now, with my responsibilities for my nephew, that I begin to truly appreciate it.
He is a brand new teenager, and he has all the attitude that comes with the hormones. He also has issues rooted in his past, and in our current situation together, which I’ll not elaborate on out of respect for his privacy. Getting to the heart of the matter, he often accuses us of not caring about him, usually in response to reasonable discipline. He doesn’t understand, yet, how we can punish him if we love him, but the reality is the other way around.
If we didn’t care about him, we’d do nothing. Nothing at all. What we do, we do for him, to try and help him, because we love him.
Have you noticed? People only put effort into things they care about.
Most people, outside a lucky few, go to work, and endure unending piles of crap heaped eternally on their heads, not because they love their job, but because they need to earn a living. They care about the survival and comfort of themselves and those they are responsible for.
Athletes and scholars and doctors and mechanics and everyone else puts countless hours into mastering their craft because they care about it.
Drill sergeants break down raw recruits in every possible way, and then rebuild them into soldiers, because they care about whether those soldiers come back from war alive. They can’t go easy on them.
Supervisors and managers are hard on those they lead because they care about what happens.
Investigators of internal affairs in police forces and armies and such, they do their jobs well when they care about the results.
Animal trainers use basic techniques, and a lot of time and effort, into… well, training their animals, because they care about the animal’s performance.
Shepherds and cowherds and such, they put tremendous amounts of effort into feeding, guiding, and guarding their herds and flocks, much as farmers do in tending their fields, because, being invested in such, they care about it.
And teachers, counselors, and parents monitor and correct a child’s behavior because they care about that child.
A human pays attention to another human when they care about that human.
Even when people are doing petty, stupid things, like furthering a feud, getting revenge, sabotaging, or whatever else, it’s rooted in what they (unwisely) care about. So, I’m not saying people “always” care in a “good” way, I just mean that they don’t put effort into things they don’t care about.
So, whenever my nephew, who has more greatness in him than he realizes, tries to tell us we don’t care about him, I can honestly point to everything we do as proof that we care about him more than he knows. 🙂