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Summary: We excuse everything with "I don’t care", but when we see the eyes of those we have offended and hear them speak, we know that we have hurt them. When we see Christ and hear Him at the cross, we can no longer pretend that we don’t care.

I

“I don’t care.” That was the mechanism I used as a boy to fend off whatever punishment my parents gave. “You’re grounded.” “I don’t care”. “No allowance this week.” I don’t care.” And, to tell the truth, I didn’t care. I would just go to some quiet corner and get a book and read. I was quite happy. I didn’t care. “Go to your room and shut the door until I tell you to come out.” “I don’t care”. And I didn’t care. My little room had, in addition to my books, a little radio on which I could listen to University of Kentucky basketball, sadly this year already terminated in March Madness, but not in my boyhood days. The room had my stamp collection, through which, in my mind, I could visit all sorts of exotic locations; and it had two large windows, through which I could sail paper airplanes I had designed. No, I didn’t care. I could amuse myself and forget about whatever it was I had done that put me in that place.

“I don’t care” was my ultimate all-purpose rejoinder, a terrible taunt that told my parents their efforts to discipline me were worthless. A silly slap that let me slide into my own little corner and feel smug. “I don’t care”.

Of course eventually my parents would let me out, and the look on their faces as well as the words from their lips told me … well, let’s leave that for a moment.

II

“I don’t care” is the defense of the whole human race, isn’t it? As long as we can put up that brave front, we suppose that we can get away with almost anything. We can slander someone, making the most outrageous assumptions, and if we are challenged, we can say, “That’s the way it seems to me. I don’t care”.

We can say hurtful things to one another and not feel a thing, especially if we put some distance between ourselves and those we are hurting. Email! Have you noticed that typing stuff to one another creates an emotional distance, and we seem no longer to care how we treat one another? One day at the church where I was pastor, I was working away in my office, and suddenly there came an email that was a copy of something sent by a church member to my assistant pastor. My assistant felt hurt by it, and wanted me to see what had been sent her. Before I knew it, another email popped up, the assistant pastor replying to the church member, copying me. And then a reply to the reply, more pointed, more emotional. By the time we got to the reply to the reply to the reply, I was out of my office, hurrying to my assistant’s office. The door was shut; I knocked, and she said, “Not now.” I identified myself, and she repeated, “Please, not now.” So I was reduced to returning to my computer and emailing both her and her protagonist, trying to intervene before they really damaged each other!

It was all a huge misunderstanding and they are now the dearest of friends. But how easily we lapse into hurting one another and finding ever more sophisticated ways of saying, “I don’t care”.

In fact, when she finally unlocked her office door and let me in, the look on her face and the words from her lips told me … well, let’s leave that for a moment.


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