I remember when I was about 5 years old, my father wanted me to kiss him before he left.  I didn’t want to do it.  I had no emotional ties to him.  My mom and father had separated when I was less than a year old.  He lived in another state and dropped by approximately twice a year.  My mom never discussed him, so I have no idea if he gave her any significant financial support.

Anyway, I turned away from my father’s overture to kiss me, upon which he said he wouldn’t give me any money without a goodbye kiss.  I said, “I don’t care!”  He chided me with:  “You mustn’t say you don’t care.”  But I didn’t care!  The promise of money was not enough to make me compromise my feelings (or lack of feelings).  My mom said nothing.  He gave my mom the would-be bribe and left.

There are times when a don’t-care attitude is harmful such as, for example, when people don’t care about clean water, recycling, natural resources, poverty, healthy bodies and minds, crooked politicians, criminal behavior, the welfare and rights of others, education.  But a don’t-care attitude can also forge the way toward good ethics, high morals and self-determination.

DON’T CARE if you are considered a wimp, a pansy or a wuss because you are respectful, compassionate and kind toward others.  DON’T CARE if you are not the apple of everyone’s eye.  Some people not liking you is a compliment.  DON’T CARE if you’re considered a nerd because you’re a good student or try to be.  DON’T CARE if you don’t dress, have your hair or makeup in the latest styles.  DON’T CARE if you choose not to use curse words as though they’re the only words you know.  DON’T CARE if someone’s faith, race, ethnicity or sexual preference is not the same as yours.

When making decisions about whether to care or not, consider the words sung by the Staple Singers:  “Respect yourself, respect yourself.  If you don’t respect yourself, Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot…”

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...