A few weeks ago, I was in a contraption with a few folks my age and older who were voicing concerns about all the “information” kids get online. During that conversation, statistics were thrown around about how much data we’re subject to. Apparently, every person creates something like 1.7 MB of data every second, which amounted to 2.5 quintillion data bytes per day.
At some point, someone said something about kids knowing too much. I don’t remember the exact phrase but it was something along the lines of “it’s just too much information. They’re overwhelmed.”
That.. gave me pause.
Something about it rang true, but not entirely.
You see, I wonder if the hang-up here isn’t that there’s too much to know; I wonder if it’s that I feel responsible for caring about all of it… or even too much of it.
And saying I don’t care about everything can be a slightly troublesome thing to say. Because “everything” is a very long list and it includes things you might think are REALLY vital; maybe even essential. So, as I confess my limitation of care, I just might be telling you that I don’t care about the things you care about the way you care about them or to the same depth… and now… now we might have a problem.
And that… that’s overwhelming; to feel like I have to overextend my care or even pretend to overextend my care in order to remain true to my tribe. What if I care about the hungry teens in Pleasant Hill / Martinez, CA who are sleeping in cars around the corner from their local HS instead of at home so they know they can get to school on time … but my heart isn’t drawn to the clean water crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa?
What if I spend the lion’s share of my charitable, care time and energy in the area of child exploitation and human trafficking and, because I do, I don’t know enough about trans persons or biology or the science in the mix?
What if I don’t care about what you care about?
And what if it scares me to tell you that?
What if it’s not the amount of information available to us. What if it’s the degree of responsibility we feel we have to have for that information; I don’t have the time or energy or the resources to effectively and consistently care for more than a few things.
That’s just true… and I know it’s true. I also know it’s true that there are absences on (or from) my care list that have been disappointing to more than a few people. And that’s been a point of stress at times;
Moving the question from “what do I care about?”
To “what should I care about?”
Author and Missiologist Michael Frost gets a lot of questions that basically boil down to the question of care. Because he’s in the field of teaching religious-minded about responsible “mission,” he regularly converses with folks who are searching the world around them for urgent needs to fill so that they can participate in the Grand Work of Redemption and Restoration. Rather than prescribe to folks attention to “that which matters most,” Michael turns the question towards people
To whom are you called?
Who will go with you?
Michael redirects issue-focused conversations to the people whose actual, human, soft, and precious lives are affected, altered, damaged, or saved; the people whose fundamental value is the foundation of value for any and every “issue” or idea in all of human history.
This is why I have been so richly blessed by David Dark’s commitment to Reality.
It is her complex and sacred humanity that is David’s doorway into care for issues and ideas like criminal justice, responsible citizenship, and a more comprehensive expression of what it means to be “Pro-Life.”
“To love a person” David has written, “is to love a process.” Yes. Also, to love a person is to enter into a world full of ideas and dilemmas and issues, but to find them in their proper context; encased in the soft, impermanent flesh of humanity.
What if we’re not so much overwhelmed by the amount of information available to us; what if we’re simply distracted by it. And in our distraction, we lose touch with what enlivens us; what grounds us what makes any and all of the 2.5 quintillion daily data bytes worth a thing.
That our hearts are not build to simply KNOW the world and those who live in it; we are built to care for the world and those who live in it…. So far as we are capable.
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