It is probably true that not many people have heard of Walter Hagen.
Some may guess that he was the inventor of Haagen-Dazs ice cream — but that would be wrong.
Walter Hagen was a professional golfer who died in 1969 but who lies third behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods (both of whom most people will have heard of) regarding the number of major golf titles won.
He was a legend of golf yet millions of people have never heard of him; his achievements are long forgotten.
Be that as it may, Walter Hagen was one who declared that “No-one remembers who came second”, a point that many people may well endorse and indeed is perhaps reflected in the number of people who remember him.
More than simply it being a matter of no-one remembering, no-one actually cares.
Indeed, well might we ask who cares what we did back in primary school?
Do we still put on our CV that we were a prefect in Grade 7?
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Do we state what teams we played for at school?
Do we declare the prizes we received at Speech Days?
Do we proudly record whom we beat and by how much?
Do we continue to mention that our team was undefeated for four years? Who cares?
Who cares what we did at school, now that we are older?
That is something we must teach our children, as parents and teachers.
What we did in the past counts for little. Indeed, we should even point out that what we do in the present may count for little even tomorrow.
Who cares if we have a big house, receive a fat cheque, own many companies, know powerful people, if we care little for others? Who will care when we die?
Who cares, for that matter, if we drive appallingly or dump our litter on the roadside? Who cares if others get angry with us because of the way we drive or queue? Who cares?
Indeed, we may well look around us and wonder who cares about punctuality, smartness, tidiness, language.
Who cares about values and principles, such as integrity, respect, responsibility? Not many, it would appear.
We should all care however about one thing and that is about who cares.
It is twenty-five years since two very contrasting ladies died within five days of each other, news of both passings making headlines all around the world.
One died of ill health, aged 87; the other died in a car crash aged 36.
Both divided opinion yet attracted attention. Their backgrounds were totally different yet they had met each other on a couple of occasions and found a strong, common bond – a bond in caring. These ladies were, of course, Mother Teresa and Princess Diana.
At her funeral, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif described Mother Teresa as "a rare and unique individual who lived long for higher purposes.
Her life-long devotion to the care of the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged was one of the highest examples of service to our humanity."
In a tribute to Princess Diana, one writer declared that “Her achievements — a commitment to reach out and literally touch those who suffer, whether from AIDS, leprosy, or the devastation of landmines — were palpably honourable, real and influential. Although she neither saved nor created an empire, or freed slaves, or the oppressed, or solved any of the great mysteries of life, she represented grace and nobility, the latter in its best, non-hereditary meaning.” In a word, both cared for other humans.
So, we now may well ask the same question: Who cares? Who among us all, in our family, in our community, in our society, in our school, cares for others?
Who cares for the weak, lonely, outcasts, vulnerable, disadvantaged, downcast, sick, bullied, elderly, orphaned, broken, ignored? Who cares for them?
Who cares about what happens to them? Who cares about how they are in such a situation?
Is that not what education should be about?
Who cares what Walter Hagen or Mother Teresa or Princess Diana did?
We may well have forgotten all of them (if we had even heard of them); indeed, what they did long ago is not the matter.
The real question is what are we going to do, today, and what we are going to say and show to our children?
Do we care?
The very event we celebrate at Christmas, an event that happened way before Walter Hagen and Princess Diana lived on this earth, shows that God cares. Perhaps it is about time we did the same.
Do we care enough to do that? Let us show and teach our children that we care and so must they.
To change the old motto, “Who cares, wins”.
- Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS.
- email: [email protected]