Caring vs. Loving

Hudson river from Battery park

I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”- Tony Campolo, Professor, Baptist minister, evangelical.

I posted this quote on my facebook wall two years ago and it ignited a hornet’s nest of reactions.  There was a time in my life where I would have been outraged a minister swore.  The outrage now comes not from the swear, but from the lack of love.

Do you ever find yourself in this situation:  you watch the news or hear of a tragedy or disaster.  You grieve for the loss and devastation and you want to help.  You care, and want to help.  And then life goes on.

I find myself there.  Yes I care, yes I’m provoked to do something about injustice, tragedy, etc.  But I find myself caring, but not loving.  There lies the great divide.

I Care, but…

Caring says:  this has come to my attention, my heart breaks for this person or situation.  Somebody should do something.  I want to do something, but I don’t know what.

Love says: well, love speaks through action.

Love compels us to respond. Love requires us to participate in our collective humanity and meet a need.  Love doesn’t do something out of guilt.  Care does, mostly to save face.  “I guess I should do something so I won’t look like a jerk.”  “I’ll tell them I’ll say a prayer for them because that is the right thing to say.”  “I really don’t feel like listening to her talk about this guy AGAIN, but I guess I will because that is what roommates do.”

We care too, most of the time not just out of selfish reasons, but because we genuinely have empathy for someone else.  But can we go deeper?  Can we go beyond the surface and dig deep to the place that connects all of us?  Our humanity.  In that place, we find love, our connection to the divine.

Does it matter that Tony Campolo swore?  No.

What Matters Most

It matters that people are dying of preventable diseases.  It matters parents are losing their children and vice versa.  It matters people do not have clean water to drink or bathe in.  It matters there are people who are homeless down the street from me who aren’t given the dignity and respect that we give animals.  It matters that (insert celebrity name here) had a moral failure that has gone public and there isn’t love, just criticism and a collective moral high road taken by the masses.  It matters the woman who was raped doesn’t get justice because it was her word against his, she was drunk, and her choice of wardrobe at the time was used against her.

People matter.  As much as we want God to step out of Heaven and make all of our pain and all the evil in the world disappear like a celestial magician, what are we doing?  Do we care about people, or are we loving people?  Love lasts a lot longer than care does.  Love keeps us going when we run out of care juice.  Love. Keeps. Us. Going.

Yes, of course we need to care, but it can’t stop there.  Caring is the prerequisite to love.

Are we wrapped up in religious rhetoric and duty, or are we wrapped up in loving people as best we can?  Are we looking to politics and someone else to do something, or can we do a little somethin’ somethin’ right where we are?  Right in our own community.  There is hurt and poverty and injustice worldwide, even two miles down the street.

We all have the capacity to care and love, not just care alone.

What do you care the most about, and how can you go deeper to love something about it?


[photo by keps1230]


  • I’ve always like that quote from Campolo, because it reminds me not to spend my time and energy being angry about things that in the end, don’t have very much eternal value. I so easily want to be the judge of all I see, hear, and do, but in that judgment I lose sight of everything Christ lived and died for. When I take away the judgment, only then am I truly able to see love in all its glory.

  • Hey Kyla, welcome! It is easy to get distracted from what matters most, I find myself caught there quite often. People are what matters, then we can see the glory of love.

    (That sounds like an 80’s rock song by Whitesnake or perhaps Springsteen.)

    Thanks for reading and a question for you: how do you take away the judgment and see?

  • This is actually my first time reading that quote, and wow, what a great message it gives. 🙂 So many great points about caring vs. loving! I definitely learned from this, and really need to change more of my care into love…

  • What’s up Sarah,

    I know right, that quote can really get you thinking. Thanks for the kind words and I’m working on my loving too. I’m finding it is a marathon and not a sprint. Thanks for reading yo!

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