I want to live a care-full life. I want to take risks to care for others where they might be in want or sadness. Such a careful life requires vigilance first, and exposure to people, and flexibility in my time. Missed opportunities cry out to me each day, and yet I often don’t react, allowing the momentum of the events of the day to remain unchanged. These opportunities are risky.

Here in the battlefield robber’s story, Thernardier, capitalizing on the tragic death of others, we find the opposite of this care-full life. The opposite of care-full is careful. In a careful life, I look out for myself in a scarcity mentality, minimizing risk and collecting and saving my resources, oblivious to subtle signs of suffering all around. There are always things out of place – a tone of voice in a word spoken, a person sitting or walking alone, an angry tone or a sarcastic comment. A careful life guards against these signs and avoids the problem with the easy diversion, even while appearing to be a caring person on the outside.

So why would I care? Why would I want to spend my days being care-full? And won’t that slow my progress down? Where is my progress taking me? Is this destination important enough to keep driving? Or should I pull off the road and care?