Caring is Sharing

Channel your compassion into constructive communication

By Kelly Hagen, NDU Director of Communications

I’m what you could call a Care Bear, if that term isn’t already trademarked by the cartoon of the same name. I care. A lot. I care deeply about my family, of course, as well as my friends and colleagues. Don’t really care for my neighbors, but that’s a different story. I think they had my car towed from in front of my house one time, on the coldest day of the year. I’ll tell you more about it some other time.

Kelly Hagen, NDU Director of Communications

Beyond that, I care for this state, and for the country as a whole. I care about people, everywhere. I care about individuals, and about communities. I care about what’s going to happen to all of us. And that’s a whole awful lot to always be thinking and caring about.

And for the last few weeks, I’ve wanted a whole lot to not care. You read the news, on the Internet, in the newspapers, of all the things that are happening to people locally, in our state, across the country and throughout the world.

You’re a member of North Dakota United, and so I feel comfortable in surmising that you care a whole awful lot, too. You don’t join this organization out of apathy. We all have colleagues who treat their jobs like a job. They don’t care what happens. They punch in, do what they’re supposed to do, punch out and go home. They’re not members of NDU, because they don’t care about their profession.

It’s difficult to not be envious of that, right? My six-year-old daughter will often respond to my commands to her with the phrase, “I don’t care.” And the lizard brain in me wants to throw up my hands and say, “You know what? I don’t care, either!” Why do I care if she brushes her teeth before bed? Why do I care if she eats green beans? It’d be a lot easier if I didn’t.

I’ve been feeling that lizard-brain instinct a lot lately, ever since the election. Because we lost a whole lot of friends in the Legislature. We lost good people who care a whole awful lot about public education and public services. They care about their constituents, about working families and doing the right thing. And I know that the sting of losing their races was made that much worse because they care so much. That’s a hard thing to see happen.

I know that I wouldn’t have to get so worked up, before and after every election, if I was just dialed out. I could do other stuff. Just let life happen. It sounds ideal. I wish I didn’t care.

But then I saw The Lorax peeking out from my two-year-old son’s bookshelf the other night. And it has that line: “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” I’d forgotten, but that’s my favorite thing ever written. It’s so perfect.

Caring can be awful, because it’s a lot. That’s what makes it so awful, because it’s so immense. But someone has to do it, or it doesn’t get done.

I know it hurts to care this much about public services and public education this much, and to see these systems under attack across our country. I understand the pain is so intense when we see students or people we serve struggle mightily, because we care so much. But things don’t get better if we don’t care. Someone has to care a whole awful lot. We should be those someones.

And this is where communication comes in. We need you to care enough about the work you do as a professional, about the people we serve, and about the union you belong to, that you share your experiences with the legislators who will be making impactful decisions that will affect your career, your students and citizens of our state, and your association.

Often times, our legislators just don’t know what conditions are like on the ground for our public educators and employees. They want to hear what it’s like, so care enough to tell them. Visit http://ndunited.org/news/be-an-ndu-activist/ and sign up to be an NDU Member Activist. You’ll be the first to hear when bills come up in the next session, and we’ll connect you directly with the decision-makers who need your input. Also, we’ll be putting out as much info about what is happening at the Capitol through our website, ndunited.org, our social media — facebook.com/ndunited and twitter.com/ndunited — e-mails and United Voices. Stay tuned.

Thank you for caring so awful much. Together, we can make things better.

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