Who Cares? So What?

There’s a song in the musical Cabaret, where an old landlord during the rise of Hitler’s Germany sings a song entitled, of all things, “Who Cares? So What?” It isn’t one of the best songs musically in the whole play, for most it’s not the most memorable, but I’ve always thought the simple lyrics to be very powerful. On the surface, the song is meant to be slightly humorous and ironic but the words seems to point to one of the deepest challenges of mankind: apathy.

“For the sun will rise
And the moon will set
And you learn how to settle
For what you get.
It will all go on if we’re here or not
So who cares? So what?
So who cares? So what?”

In the course of the very short and simple song, the landlord, Fräulein Schneider, manages to go through the complete memoirs of her own fascinating life and then throws her entire life to the gutter with the chorus: So what? Hitler’s taking over the world, there’s genocide, there’s a World War. So what?

Her So What? leads her to do nothing and to discount her life as totally ineffectual. It’s something I think we all tend to do from time to time.

I know I’m guilty of falling into the So What? trap every once in a while. You spend all this time writing and inevitably you think, “Well who cares if I even finish this really? Who’s going to read it besides close friends and family? Is writing a novel going to really save anyone? Is writing a blog really that important? Would anyone really care if I keep it up?”

It’s not good, I admit it. It begins a vicious spiral that I try to stamp out as fast as I can. So What? Seems innocent enough, but it is a direct challenge to what’s important in life, and quickly sabotages any action to make things better, or at least to try. So What? Seems to imply that someone up there thinks the same way. God’s like:  So what? Even if God thinks your life, or what you are doing IS important, everyone else out there (i.e. other people) don’t think so. Society’s like: So what? Or your friends are like: So what? Or your family is like:  So what? Or your co-workers are like: So what?

Every time someone doesn’t take the time to listen to you, doesn’t take what you are doing seriously, doesn’t try to understand that yes what you are doing is important and it would be helpful if you came at them with some slight interest, then what you are getting is:  So What? And So what? spreads like a wildfire. Suddenly you’re saying So What? about your own life, and the time and energy you are spending on what you are doing.  Then suddenly, you’re saying So What? to other people’s projects and endeavors, until it consumes the world, until finally you’re an old lady and Hitler’s Nazi’s are invading and instead of helping the jews or fleeing the country your staying put and singing:

So who cares? So what?
So who cares? So what?

Woah. How did that happen? That is the danger of So What? It’s apathy. Indifference to the world. It’s more than just indifference, it’s looking at everything as useless, almost silly, insignificant, fleeting, of little or no importance. Not worth trying. Not worth doing. Worthless. Your worthless. It’s all worthless. That’s where that So What? is headed towards.

If you’re on a project that requires your focus and energy, avoid So What? as much as possible. Don’t even pick up the first So What? because it has a tendency to infect and multiply. And, please please don’t pass So What? on. It isn’t true and it isn’t fair.

Because the work we do does matter, maybe not to society, maybe not to the people around us, but certainly it matters to us. It’s important to us and that’s all the reason we need to say:

Who cares? I do. So what? So that my life can mean something. So that others, with my help, can find fulfillment and meaning as well.

I chose not to stay put and say So What? I chose to do. I chose to create. I chose to share my thoughts. I chose to take big risks, fail, and get back up again. My life is a big deal and so is yours. Don’t shortchange yourself.

much love,

Ollin

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11 comments on “Who Cares? So What?

  1. Very uplifting. Thank you, Ollin. Apathy really is a huge problem today, and not just in a “it’s going to happen whether I care or not” sense, but also in a “it doesn’t directly pertain to me and it doesn’t effect my daily routine, so whatever” sense. Large scale like the BP oil spill situation, or small scale in the way of just interacting with other people…

    Throwing “So what?” out the window would out the whole world in a better state, I think. Great post.

    • Thanks Goggles and Lace,

      Yeah that BP oil spill has been on the back of my mind, because I know enough about climate change to know how awful that’s going to be on the environment. Let’s hope it drives people to some more action, and comprehensive legislation to start using renewable, homegrown energy that doesn’t crap on the environment! Yeah!🙂

      • milkfever says:

        Great post, and so true. ‘So what?’ is the victim’s catch-cry. I think it’s tragic when someone thinks that they have no power. Breaks my heart. We might not all have the power to influence politicians and others in power, or stop world hunger, fight crime, or do anything about the BP oil spill, but there will be some corner of our own lives where we can make changes. Even if it’s just in our attitude.
        I agree with you, we shouldn’t short change ourselves. We really are far more powerful than we could ever imagine.🙂

      • milkfever,

        “we are really more powerful than we could ever imagine.”

        Very true, but hardly something we would like to admit. It’s easier to feel helpless, doesn’t it? Thanks for dropping by!

  2. Lua says:

    That is a dangerous road to go down… Once, I heard a writer saying, “life is not aware of us, it’ll go on with or without our consent.” True it may be, saying “So what? Who care?” can make everything look grey and hopeless. The words we write may change nothing, but then again, it may change a lot. It’s a chance worth taking, isn’t it?🙂

  3. Great post. Taking risks and chances is what life is all about.

  4. I fall into this trap quite often. It’s painful and makes you feel worthless. But then you have to realize, even if only your mom and your faithful blog friends read your material, you’re not really writing to get famous, you’re writing because you’re a writer and you have to. Besides, you love it🙂

  5. […] about how sometimes I hate my novel, how sometimes writing can be boring. I’ve had moments of apathy and moments where I wanted to give up completely. Then there were those dark moments when I hit a […]

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