The Cost of Caring

Sep 5th, 2013 | By | Category: Latest

CareWe live in a world of horror. A world of trembling despair. Of playful murder. Of playful strategy. Of senseless, random, vague bombing from a remote control held by someone taking incessant breaks between his munching of doritos and sipping of diet coke.  Of someone saying that others are the cause of our problems as he ignites fear, steals our sense of empathy, and appeals to the monster that hides in the scariest locked-up parts of our souls- and then we hurt others; and we feel nothing. We know this. We ignore this. We see. We pass by.

Being passive onlookers is abruptly convenient. It is an exercise in sleeping a dreamless sleep. It is an exercise in fearing that which cannot escape the sight our eyes have held in store for our awaken selves. It is to run away from the risk of seeing and of knowing and of feeling. It is an exercise in sanity. But is it, really?

Are we ready to embark upon the risk of knowing? Are we ready to know that the difference of being labeled a Tutsi rather than a Hutu on a piece on paper can mean being exposed to creative torture, of the worst forms of rape and slaughter, of the sight of seeing one’s whole family being put to rest slowly and painfully. Are we ready to worry less about what movie will be out this summer and worry more about the cries and woes of the families of the many daily ‘targeted’ and killed, and counted. And how can we stay unmoved when fascist governments terrorize thousands and traumatize millions more. And how can we remain calm when the strongest people on earth decide to do some ‘collateral damage’- experienced by the weak, euphemized by the powerful.

It seems as though we are left with the wisdom laden in the phrase ‘Ignorance is Bliss’. But this raises more questions than it answers. Is escaping the problem an actual solution? Is closing the eyes going to stop the inevitable? One can still ask, in further retrospect, can we offer a solution? Can we do anything else other than closing our eyes?

Maybe we can’t do much. But this would be replying to a wrong question. It’s not a question of what we ‘can’ but of what we ‘should’ be doing. Should we do something? And even when we can’t, should we care?

Caring has a cost. To care is to feel and to share. It is also to share feelings. It is to put oneself in another’s place. It may come in feeling the happiness and excitement others enjoy in those all too small things. But it also means that you have to feel the dread and blunt pain that someone else is put through. To care is not something to do, but something to be. To be human is to care. To be human is to accept the concept of ‘humanity’ and extending that concept to others.

Humanity is a wholesale concept. You either accept it completely or you simply don’t. You cannot be selective in your humanity. This means to be truly human, you cannot simply enjoy your life while forgetting what others go through. Similarly, you cannot merely welcome the joy in life as you run away from its dark side. This is where the crisis of Capitalism truly lies at. Capitalism tries to steal from us the very notion of what it means to be human.

The culture of Capitalism forces a ‘success model’ down our throat which pretends to be an undisputable fact of life- the only ‘normal’ way of life. Success for us is something of a life purpose. It is the only meaningful pursuit a materialist existence has to offer.  To have a career is something we must all strive to achieve with a narrow and blinded vision. Career is the highest purpose of life, virtually becoming the sole source of meaning- a very meaningless source of meaning.  This is a negation of any pursuit which demands that we help our fellow beings. It is also a negation of caring about our fellow beings. This is because it forces us to empty our minds from all distractions that stop us from focusing on our career.

We are moving towards a world where we function on a need-to-know basis. We must be ignorant to be successful. And we must seek meaning in a pursuit of happiness where we are mere functionaries of a production line. We must be productive, efficient and hardworking. The only problem this poses is one of meaning and empathy, of caring and being human.

Saad Lakhani

About the author

Saad Lakhani is a student of Social Sciences based in Karachi. He tweets @Saadlakhani12

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