One reaches romantic maturity when they have accepted their “opposite” side and instead of looking for their opposite, they look for the truely “other”.
At some time or another, we all stop the wheels of the daily grind and think to ourselves, “Why do we work?” or “Why do we study?” or simply “Why do we do anything at all?” These sorts of questions have plagued our civilization for thousands of years, and they speak to the heart of human motivation. In other words, these questions all point to the most fundamental question of all: “Why care?”
Caring is a pretty vague notion, and it’s difficult to write about without referring to the various activities that caring may and can encompass. In my mind, I see caring as simply a desire to impact an entity such that it changes in some substantive and ostensibly better way. Surely, that’s a mouthful of words, but it’s a definition that I think covers most of what caring is all about. Note that I’ve used the word “desire”, which means that caring isn’t necessarily an action, as much as it is an intention, a state of mind that brings actions about.
When I think about the things that I care about, they fall into four categories: myself, those who are close to me (family and friends), those who are suffering, and that which otherwise absorbs me. The first of these, although it may seem egotistical, is a natural given. If we can’t care about ourselves, then life is no longer possible. We must care about our personal well-being before we can care about anything or anyone else.
Caring about loved ones is an important part of life because we are inherently social beings. Although different people have different levels of social skills or interests, the facts still stand — we need the interaction of other people as much as we need food, water, and shelter. As the poet John Donne once said, “No man is an island.”
Caring about other beings who are suffering but whom we do not necessarily know is a bit more problematic to justify, but again, I think it is an important part of life. Although we may not be in immediate contact with these suffering beings, we are all inherently connected, to each other and to our environment. A desire to end suffering in others is a natural extension from this inherent global connection.
Lastly, caring about that which absorbs us defines how we spend our days outside of school, work, and/or play. Everyone has their own interests. Some are interested in making music, others are interested in writing, and others enjoy cooking or developing software. Whatever it is that absorbs you — that catches your interest and keeps you attentive for hours at a time — is something we should care about. It fills the void that is left after we’ve done everything that is necessary for survival.
Everyone has a different criteria for “caring”, and others may define it differently, but in the end, caring is what motivates nearly every action that we undertake. By taking the time to consider what we care about and why, we are given a renewed sense of purpose in life. And this sort of direction enables change to occur, within ourselves and without.
This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of nursing schools. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: email@example.com.(Bold, italicized text is input from One World class participants. Thank you!)