Both at dinner on Sabbath and while I was enjoying a great deal of time spent with friends and family, a topic came up that drew a lot of thought and discussion. How do other people recognize that we care about them? One of the things we discussed is that it is obvious to show that we care about people by doing things that they appreciate and enjoy and not doing things that bother them. This does not seem to be an overly complicated thing, and it was amusing to look at the sorts of things that we all appreciate and that we know about what others like. In doing so we were able to determine some obvious ways that showing that one cares can be done in a straightforward manner.
It did not prove particularly difficult to see what other people enjoyed when we were chatting. For example, on Mother’s Day I gave my mum a call because I know that she appreciates talking on the phone at least twice a year on her birthday as well as on mother’s day. Knowing these things, then, one can do them. Similarly, our discussion of what others enjoyed eating and drinking for mother’s day was also similarly straightforward. It is easy for us to think of what others like or don’t like when we pay attention to them and their ways. To the extent that we demonstrate we don’t pay attention to others, it is a sign that we do not care about them. After all, it only takes a bit of time and attention to see the patterns of others, to see what they like to do, what they like to talk about, what they like to eat and drink, and so on. To humor others, if we genuinely care about them, is no great sacrifice.
One of the aspects of our time that is particularly troublesome, and none of us are immune to its influences, is that we are so consumed about ourselves and our own preferences and what we want to say and do and enjoy, that we seldom stop to think about what others want. One of the joys of getting a certain amount of money and power is to coerce others to cater to us, with a lack of reciprocity. And while there are people who will put up with a great deal because of their desire to maintain a relationship, the selfishness that demands that others hear us and attend to our preferences and cares nothing about what others like and what others not is wearisome. And if we are not wearied by the ungrateful, it often turns out to be the case that we are the one heaping burdens on those around us. And once we realize that, perhaps we can turn our attention to what we have ignored, because most people make it easy for us to show that we care if we have any interest in doing so.