Sometimes a television program can get a moral point across in a few minutes of entertainment that is more clear and convincing than a lengthy ethical treatise.
That happened to me last night when my wife and I were watching an episode of season 3 of Ted Lasso on AppleTV+.
Before I share a clip of that scene, a bit of background.
Colin, one of the soccer (football, to most of the world) players on the professional team Lasso is coaching, inadvertently revealed that he was gay, homosexual, to the team captain, Isaac, when Isaac saw some photos on Colin's phone.
Isaac then gave Colin the cold shoulder, ignoring him and even acting nasty toward him during the first half of their soccer match. I thought Isaac was being homophobic. Not true. We later learn that Isaac was upset that Colin hadn't told him he was gay.
At halftime, after the team had played poorly, a fan yelled that they were all a bunch of faggots -- a derogatory term for a male homosexual. That set Isaac off. He charged into the seats, accosting the fan, which led to him getting a red card and being ejected from the game.
During the team's halftime meeting, Lasso asked why Isaac acted that way. Someone said that maybe it was because Isaac was gay. But Colin then revealed to the team for the first time that he was gay.
The reaction from team members: "We don't care." That spurred Ted Lasso to relate one of his folksy stories in order to convey a message to his team.
What struck me about this little speech was how while "We don't care" was supposed to express support for Colin, that actually was a weak gesture for their gay teammate.
Sure, we don't care that you're gay is much better than we dislike that you're gay, but it's way worse than we care about you and will support you. Which is why Lasso put it as "We don't not care." Because they actually do care about Colin.
The meaning I took away from this is that we shouldn't sit on the sidelines when someone or something we care about is being attacked or threatened or denigrated or ignored.
To give a churchless example, it isn't enough to say that we don't care if someone has a spiritual belief different from our own. That's a wishy-washy sentiment of neutrality, really. Rather, as the tagline on this blog says, we should wholeheartedly support and care about spiritual independence.
This is why I started this blog about nineteen years ago: I was fed up with religious fundamentalism that believes in only one way, the fundamentalist way. I wanted to do something about dogmatism and blind faith, which I consider to be dangerous both for individuals and cultures.
But this doesn't mean accepting everything someone says about their chosen belief system, in the same way that even though Colin is supported by his teammates in his gayness, they can still criticize Colin for all kinds of other things, including how he plays in a soccer match.
On this blog, I care about truth. Even as I support commenters in choosing their personal spiritual or religious beliefs, I can critique those beliefs when they appear to be objectively untrue -- because truth is important to me.
And naturally they can critique my blog posts for not being true or making sense.
When caring is present, rather than not caring, a lot can be forgiven. In the Ted Lasso episode, Isaac and Colin drift apart. Then they come together again after Isaac goes to Colin's house and apologizes for the way he acted.
This is tougher to do in cyberspace, since that lacks the physical intimacy of face-to-face communication. Still, caring, really caring, is equally important in our social media and internet encounters.
Yes, I often fail to keep this in mind when I feel strongly about something I care about, and someone else has another way of looking at it. However, deep down I know that they care as much as I do. We just care about different things in different ways.
If we can agree that we all care about caring, hey, that might be as good as it gets in this often crazy realm of cyberspace. The most important thing is to keep on caring, because apathy is much worse.
Passionate disagreements can be bridged. Apathy, not caring, is a void that can't be bridged.