I care.  It’s what I do.  In a jaded society where caring about anything immediately makes you uncool and vulnerable, the fact that I will go out of my way for a stranger is considered a weakness.  Being a hopeless romantic is passe.  Expecting a partner to be anything but cool and aloof is demanding and clingy.  We are determined to break the patterns of codependency that we feel held our parents back.  The problem here is that, fight it all you want, humans are pack animals.  We might like to be independent and self-sufficient, but at some point in our lives or another we will ask someone’s help, support, or simply company.  Still, I get the side-eye from Hubby if I express concern for someone I don’t know.  I’m told my empathy and the ways in which I invest myself in complete strangers is unhealthy.  I am called naive, silly, and soft.
          And maybe, just maybe, some of these things are true.  I don’t believe it to be naive to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  Ask anyone who has known me for a while, if I feel that my trust has been abused I become a completely different person.  I don’t consider “silly” to be an insult.  I think we all take ourselves too seriously sometimes.  Being silly when appropriate (and admittedly sometimes when it’s not) is not a bad thing.  Soft.  Again, when did soft become a negative trait.  When did we develop a need to build walls and toughen our skin to the extent that those around us must run the gauntlet for the benefit of our care.  I’m not talking love and adoration here.  I’m talking simple concern for one’s wellbeing, which should be something people get anyway.
          I fully acknowledge that this kind of attitude makes me a little vulnerable, and in today’s society vulnerability is a sin.  I still feel that vulnerability is how we learn about ourselves and each other.  We take risks with our bodies every day and float around little sayings about it making us stronger.  Why are we so afraid to go through this growing process with our emotions?  Furthermore, what’s the worst that could happen here?  Do we require reciprocation for caring?  Why must the simple act of hoping a friend  gets home safe or helping a stranger on the bus be returned to us?  So my feeling might get hurt, or I might feel unappreciated.  So I might miss this bus home and have to wait twenty minutes for the next one.  So I might make a new friend or turn someone’s day around.  This.  This is why I care; because there have been people in my life who cared for, and even loved, me when I least deserved it.  On my darkest days it made all the difference in the world, and I am a better person because someone cared for a stranger.
          I challenge you all to take that risk.  Have the courage to care for a stranger or an acquaintance.  Give a compliment.  I promise it won’t kill you.  It might even make you smile.