While the concept of care immediately triggers an association with the health and wellness sector, the idea of caring (or not caring) is much more than that. It
While the concept of care immediately triggers an association with the health and wellness sector, the idea of caring (or not caring) is much more than that. It is part of everyday life, informing how we treat ourselves, family, friends, strangers, animals, and the environment. Care can look like many things: from animal welfare organizations that span the globe to taking care of elderly populations, volunteering for youth organisations, coaching sports teams, planting a tree, raising children, teaching, defending the innocent, even standing in picket lines around abortion clinics—or defending those who need to walk past them—designing green architecture, donating clothing and time at refugee centres, and more. In fact, care underpins broad discourses of politics, law, ethics, health and media in contemporary society.
Today’s world is seeing a rise in ideologies that seem opposed to the basic concept of care, and yet alongside these rhetorics we see instances, events, and entire movements dedicated to caring for others. Even the recent political uprisings in Lebanon and Turkey could be said to spring from a place of care; human rights and choices about basic lifestyles are certainly encapsulated by the concept of care, and they are at the core of such movements. Around the world, donations to charities of all kinds easily top $500 billion annually. And while cash can sometimes be an easy way to care, not requiring much more than a push of a button, our daily lives are filled with care in one form or another.
In the context of the caring professions specifically, care is an umbrella term that subsumes policies, institutions, and a comprehensive work force of professions and occupations, and can be both ‘hands on’ and administrative. Importantly, health care also carries connotations of attitudes, ideologies, cultural values and community expectations that are implicated, not always harmoniously, in the dynamics of modern health care systems. While health care systems are concerned with the provision of services, the broad social domain of health care practices involves, equally significantly, the consumption of such services and the beliefs and activities of patients and clients.
What makes a human being show care? What is the appropriate way to show care? What factors cause a person to show more or less care? To what extent is care intertwined with personal sacrifice? Is care valued, promoted and properly compensated? Is it possible to care too much? Is there a limit to how much a person should care? Is anyone not worthy of receiving care? What would happen if the ethos of care were applied to everyday life and critical decision-making?
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