Tag Archives: Care

Securing the Future for All

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At the time of writing, Pope Francis has been making the news for his visit to Egypt, a 90% Muslim country, and the message of peace he has made with Islamic leaders. But he has also just given a secular TED talk which is very worthy of our reflection.

Solidarity

His first message is about solidarity (which not only means unity, but in the register of Catholicism, also connotes the social aspect of morality as a whole):

“How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries.”

So as Francis said elsewhere this week, we need to resist our cultural dichotomy that gives efficiency free reign over the economy and consigns solidarity to our social lives. But I love how he phrases this in this talk, bringing to my mind the idea of transposing what social work strives to do into all other contexts of human life. That is, the idea of the attention and care given to people in social work becoming the paradigm for how we relate to other persons generally. And as I’ve said before I think almost everyone should be involved in some kind of social work whether it’s with children, the elderly, or the disabled etc. (See related posts here.) But the important part is the spirit in which you connect with others, not whether you work with helping people directly. Francis continues by linking this to what have become the core messages of his papacy:

“Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the ‘culture of waste,’ which doesn’t concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realising it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.”

The challenges of our time, including but not limited to the environmental crisis, demand that we equip people with the skills and mindset to tackle them. Education –life-long education– must promote a ‘culture of care’ for all people, and prioritise the value of connecting with others on a personal level, as subjects rather than as objects. (See an article where I discuss this in more detail.) Fostering such a culture allows associations comprised of mutual assistance to evolve into fraternal communities comprised of ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’.

Tenderness

Building on this theme, the Pope speaks about the need for a “revolution of tenderness”, not a political revolution, but a revolution in how we relate to one another. Tenderness he says, is giving attention to the other in a heartfelt way, but not only engaging and listening with one’s heart but through the senses, often including touch.

What tenderness means is “to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need” – including nature. Tenderness is “being on the same level as the other”, co-creating a shared space of communication, a space of relationship for souls to be touched.

Francis adds humility to tenderness as another ingredient we need for our works of solidarity to be a service to others, rather than power which we impose on them. Elsewhere he has said that solidarity with the poor and with our endangered environment requires the courage to live what, by comparison to worldly expectations, are lives of simplicity. To do this is the gift of humility.

Hope

Francis says that “the future does have a name, and its name is Hope.” Hopefulness is the virtue of focusing, not on the past -or even the present- but on a positive future. With this essential role, “hope is the humble, hidden seed of life” and it is a final ingredient for a solidarity that can secure a just future for all:

“Does hope begin when we have an ‘us?’ No. Hope began with one ‘you.’ [But] when there is an ‘us,’ there begins a revolution.” Therefore “the future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold enormous responsibility, but the future is most of all in the hands of those people who recognise the other as ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us’.  We all need each other.”

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Watch the full talk here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=36zrJfAFcuc

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Yucky Girly Nature

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Some robust points here which I fully agree with; click the link to view the full article. // My comment: In this age of soundbite tweets the term ‘ecofeminist’ is useful firstly just to save the effort of writing both environmentalist and feminist. Secondly, it marks out an environmentalism which, rather than being a single-issue concern with fixing climate change to save our own arses, is grounded in a consistent life ethic, a set of values that give us guidance across all moral questions. These values are feminine in the sense that they are the humanistic values that have been emphasised from the types of experiences that have historically tended to be those of women. No claim to gender essentialism is necessary, but it is important for women to challenge patriarchal ideology that domination, for example, is a much higher value than care.

lizmckinnell

This is one of those needing-to-get-something-off-my-chest posts, or to put it a more gendered way, one of those things-that-get-on-my-tits posts.

Something that I have come to notice in a few discussions lately (in academic articles, conference papers and on internet discussion forums – it gets everywhere) is a particular identification of women with nature. Of course, this is not a new thing – it has been around for thousands of years. I have been seeing it come up in order to make points supposedly in support of feminist ideas, and also in support of pretty silly anti-feminist ones that should have been consigned to the dustbin quite some time ago.

So let’s get something straight – as a woman I do not have privileged access to the secrets of life. Having a vagina, breasts and a womb does not put me in touch with the sacred feminine. I do not…

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Feminism is the answer to a lot more problems than women’s rights

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From my friend Benjamin Thomas, today with some socialist sense rather than liberal rubbish. Click through to his site to read the whole article. // I support affirmative action. Societal issues of justice must be viewed on a historical basis rather than just in the present tense.

Liberal Rubbish

So many problems in the world are caused or exacerbated by the way we’ve programmed men (who are the ones running things, in the main) to make decisions. We tell them from when they are children that conflict is good, that winning is everything, that talking and reasoning out our differences are for girls, that co-operation is only for the weak, that negotiation is tantamount to surrender, and that strength is the ultimate form of power. As a result, we have complex international issues such as the Syrian crisis reduced to pathetic dick-waving, as countless commentators, politicians, and voters peddle the ridiculous idea that anything other than BOMB THE BASTARDS is tantamount to appeasement. The same problems can be seen in our marketplace, where co-operation, long-term thinking, and sustainable methods are run over by short-term, high-risk, competitiveness. Our democratic process is shambles, with complex issues and problems reduced to macho…

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Working Less?

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Adverts annoy me. Particularly uninvited adverts in public spaces- especially in green, residential spaces. I often fantisise about vandalising them, a la Banksy. In recent months I was even irritated by an advert for charity. Now, I don’t mean that I got people to sign up to sponsor me for every ad I endured, I mean there was an advert for charitable purposes which frustrated me every time I passed by. Read the rest of this entry

Aside

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This is not a pro-life blog. I am not a pro-life campaigner. And I’m certainly not a lawyer (something you are no doubt as relieved about as myself). But after my previous posts touched on issues of applied ethics without going into them particularly comprehensively, I would just like to clarify some of the other reasons that I’m against euthanasia and abortion. Read the rest of this entry

More Thoughts On ‘Pro-Life’