What might a culture of care look like?
To me it would be a community where we join together in a shared vision of a healthy planet with the capacity of reaching out to others in ways that don’t harm.
For we are not separate islands. Our actions inevitably affect each other, due to the nature of the interconnected “web” in which we all live.
A culture of care would have core values of mercy, tolerance and understanding that allow different views to be held and lived out as long as they didn’t harm others.
There would be structures in place in which those who have been harmed could address those who harmed, and there would be accountability for harmful actions.
A community of care would have systems and structures in place where we listen to one another on a regular basis. This is most important when someone has felt shunned, harmed, excluded or marginalized.
A community of care would find ways to safely and appropriately include all people. A spaciousness of listening would be developed that leaves no one out.
In this community people would be taught to practice healthy dialogue. There is a way to listen to each other which allows the various ideologies and opinions to be heard and brought into the larger group without blame or judgment.
There would be receptivity rather than reactivity.
Through careful listening to each other, and finding ways to acknowledge and validate each other’s experience, trust is developed.
Mistakes would be admitted so they can be learned from.
A culture of care would not punish, but there would always be responsibility with accountability!
Each person is truly responsible for their words and actions. This is the meaning of karma.
Blame and punishment need to be recognized as immature, barbaric behaviors.
Blame would not projected onto others, but brought into the light of awareness so that we learn to respond rather than react. “Eye for an eye and tooth for tooth” retaliation would no longer be practiced.
Those who commit acts of aggression and killing would thus be seen as people in great pain and in need of a special environment where they cannot hurt others, but receive treatment that is humane with the intent to heal and transform—not create more suffering.
Boundaries would be developed that don’t shut others out, but are strong enough to become a container of love.
Nonviolent communication would both be taught and spoken. (See Non-violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg)
As trust would develop where transparency and vulnerability would be expressed without fear of rejection or abuse.
Humans would be recognized as carriers of the Holy, capable of walking the Hero’s Journey by choosing their actions and consciously bearing the consequences of each action (karma) rather than be thought of as victims of circumstances.
This is a partial list of some characteristics of a caring community. I know you will think of many more.
The important thing is to begin building it.
Where do we start? Inside our own minds and hearts.
Each of us is a community within ourselves. We are filled with hopes and dreams, as well as discordance, conflict and fear.
A community of care begins with our present thought. Is it helpful? Or will it lead to suffering? To anyone—either ourselves or another.
By acknowledging our own pain, caring for ourselves and treating ourselves kindly, not in a way that indulges harmful habits of thinking, we stop projecting onto others.
As I examine my present attitudes on a continuing basis I begin to see how each moment I am either contributing to more suffering—or to the release of suffering.
I investigate the motive for each thought. Is there pride, arrogance or greed? These thoughts always lead to suffering and pain.
When I admit my mistakes, go inside myself, consciously breathe, I explore what is taking place within my heart. What am I feeling?
Embarrassment, fear and shame are not pleasant feelings, but they are all part of the human heart. Each emotion needs to be handled with care.
Whatever these emotions are, I sit with them, uncomfortable as it is. And they change constantly; nothing lasts.
Conscious, mindful breathing allows pain to subside and creates spaciousness for more wholesome thoughts and emotions.
As I do this I have noticed I seem to cause less harm, because what is made conscious isn’t projected onto others. This process gives me a choice of how I will speak and act.
Words have great power to harm or to heal. We must first speak them to ourselves.
We don’t have to get rid of painful feelings, and it’s important not to try by using distractions including food, alcohol, TV, shopping, drugs, busyness or kicking the cat.
Pain and unhappiness are gradually absorbed with gentle, caring, merciful love. This is the love which leaves nothing out. All feelings, thoughts, emotions, and states of mind are included—but not acted upon if they would harm anyone.
Everything becomes the raw material out of which something greater is brought into existence as we choose to act in a caring manner to ourselves and others.
Everything contributes to the great tapestry of life. The universe wastes nothing.
I invite you to look at your life as a beautiful tapestry that is being woven each moment. Step back; seek a new perspective. Everything that has been can be used for something useful. As the saying goes, “No tear is ever wasted.”
These words by David Whyte speak to me:
“You must learn one thing
The world was made to be free in
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.”
I think we all belong in a world where we experience the exultation of joy and freedom—where each thought and feeling only come to be liberated into that which always has been and always will be: Pure radiant mind.
What a beautiful world we can create as we work together!
In love and care,