I always thought I cared about people. Then again, it’s easy to excuse myself: loving people (like me) busy with daily living might lack the necessary apparatus for expressing their care toward others. No matter, I plan to amend the situation somehow.
Back then at the university, there was a guy ready always with a compliment for everyone. He once observed the veins visible on my lean arms and declared them a sign of good health. I knew better having subsisted on biscuits, maybe garri, some rare bread, for weeks. His energy radiated outwards and drew many to him. He shared out of his stuff, he cared. He couldn’t have given out money to all or some other practical things but I think there were guys who bore their hardships more cheerfully because of his words, and his music. Did he care about those young men and women? I think so. Do I now aim for popularity or to reproduce this feat. No, I only want to live like all reasonable men should. I hope.
Caring is deliberate action. It takes effort to reach out beyond oneself to ask after people’s welfare, to want to know what’s happening, how they’re coping, and thriving in life. It takes energy and time, and sometimes money, to look up and around to understand the state or needs of others in order to share in their joys and pains. And then to do something.
I know it is possible to even help other people in many ways without really giving them a part of your humanity. The gift without the giver is gratefully received; the giver could as well as been some shadow in the dark. The crux is love. I have wondered why Paul would say one may give his body to be burned, yet have no love; one may give away all ones wealth for some cause, yet have no love. One may sacrifice himself, die physically for another person yet be without love. It’s becoming clearer. My goodwill or goodness to someone may be out of selfish ambition — for external or internal reward. External, the praise of men; internal, the praise of self, conceit. But shouldn’t one be happy or proud for doing good? I fear I’ll get lost in this thought if I delve in too deeply now.
So my aspiration is simple (even if its execution, as most new habits, becomes difficult):
- I will take time out to think particularly about people around me.
- I will take time out to pray specifically for them, one at a time, from time to time.
- I will deliberately stop, hop off life’s conveyor track, and make meaningful conversation with people from time to time.
So help me God.