Comments, In Focus

Care matters

There is a difference between the expressions ‘I don’t mind’ and ‘I don’t care’. The first one might have to do with indifference as acceptance and respect (I do not mind what my neighbour prefers to eat); the second one refers to indifference as lack of engagement (I do not care that my neighbour had nothing to eat).


Mabel Encinas


Nowadays, ‘I don’t care’ in relation to others’ life struggles seems accepted by different philosophies and common living practices. However, it does not make those philosophies and practices less painful.

Human beings existence is impossible without care. Unlike other species, human life needs care for several years, or we would not grow up and develop. In fact, most likely, without care, we would die. ‘Care’ has to do with paying attention (observing and listening) and being empathetic. It also involves understanding and actively responding accordingly. All these elements emerge intertwined. A philosophy of care questions indifference or neutrality towards other human beings.

Responding involves responsibility towards others. In this sense, care is not pity or benevolence, but concern, solidarity and compassion (share the other’s passions).

While pity looks down at those who are in a more vulnerable position or situation, care acknowledges that we all are interdependent, and so, that we mutually support each other. We care for others because we are part of a social world, and we all live under the same sun.

Additionally, care has a bidirectional impact, but not because of paying back (‘I’ll scratch your back, then you’ll scratch mine’), but because it builds a sense of community, belonging and even joy.

Caring entails reason and emotions, such as love and rage, as part of life experiences. Feminist ethics has valued women’s experiences of collaboration, sharing and trust thus making these values visible alternatives to those of competition and the glorification of hierarchies. Issues of power imposition, discrimination, and violence are questioned in this approach.

Also, among various groups of activists and thinkers, the view has extended care from people to environments. All in all, care has no borders.

Simultaneously we are diverse, and we care for others. For this reason, women liberation entails liberation of all human beings.

Dominant individualist approaches have a consequence in the way in which we think about care. Based on the consideration of human beings as isolated individuals, it seems reasonable to pay attention only or mostly to our own selves. The experiences of being cared for and caring for others are then interpreted culturally. In patriarchal (or neo-patriarchal) cultures, caring is gendered, attributed to women, and both its need and existence are devalued. Low wages in the sector of ‘care professions’ indicate how low ‘care’ is in the labour markets.

Certainly, we experience life a something personal.

Nevertheless, we make sense of such an experience with the cultural view learned with others. While it is good that you and I do not mind that we all are different, it is a vital issue that we care about others. Only then, we can act in consequence. But, who cares about ‘others’?

(Photos: Pixabay)

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