Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On care

To continue my series "On ____," I've decided to pick the idea that's been preoccupying my mind as of late: Care. A thing.

It's like I can't decide if "care" is a resource or not. I feel like it isn't, because I can care about a lot all at once: my friends, my roommate, strangers, the whole world, the environment, Beyonce-- you name it, I can care about it.

I feel like I care a lot, and freely. Care is inexhaustible right? But then, sometimes, why can't I help but feel, exhausted?

I had to sit and think on this. Talk to some people. Read some things. I honestly think care is awesome and lovely, and creates the world. If there was no care, there would be nothing. At least nothing to care about: no societies, no language, no cathedrals or art. What'd be the point? We have it programmed in us to care, and it's not a resource to dole out one slice at a time. That type of behavior stems from fear, so I feel like I've come to my conclusion. We should care freely and beautifully. Care as much as possible, because people like it! People like care, love it even, and there can't be too much passed around! Go forth, to love and to serve, says the Bible. Basically, go forth and care.

But then, I've forgotten why I brought the question up at all. Why am I exhausted? Why does caring take so much energy? I sat back and thought, "Well, because people don't seem to care!" BAH! This is awful.

I got here because a lot of what I do is ask people to care. Will you care about the air and sign this petition? Will you care about the ocean and give us $20 a month to protect it? Will you care about state parks and make this phone call? Some people say yes, but most people say no. But what are the No's all about? They make me sad and exhaust me. I find myself whining, "Why don't they just care?"

People care because it helps us survive as a species. To care for one another and our kids is innate. The disconnect lies in time. We're really good at, like most animals, recognizing imminent threats to our survival, like a fire or flood, or even the modern example of a pay cut at work. We reassess, re-budget, re-purpose ourselves to survive. But, not everything seems imminent, so that's where I place the disconnect in care. Time. My foe. My owner. My friend. My everything: Time. She makes care seem exhaustible, something to prioritize and place here or there, when we can spare it.

But NO! Don't let her fool you! When you wonder if you should care, care is not time, it's not even money. Zoom out and ask: will caring about this make absolutely anything better? If the answer is Yes, or even Maybe: go forth, and care.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011