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domingo, 20 de mayo de 2012

Times of crisis – times of caring

Leonardo Boff
Earthcharter Commission
"Se precisan niños para amanecer"
Daniel Viglietti.

"... quizá la Ética sea una ciencia que ha desaparecido del mundo entero. No importa, endremos que inventarla otra vez".
Jorge Luis Borges - Diálogos - Seix
Barral - Barcelona - 1992- pg. 26 .
The topic of caring is a recurrent theme in the cultural reflections of our times. First it was brought up by medicine and nursing, because it represents the natural ethic of these activities. Then, it was assumed by education, and turned into a paradigm by feminist philosophers and theologians, primarily by Northamerican women, who saw in it an essential element of theanima dimension, present in all men and women. It has caused and continues to cause an on-going and tenacious debate, especially in the United States, between the basic patriarchal ethic, centered on the theme of justice, and the basic matriarchal ethic, as articulated through the essential caring.
It acquired special force in the debate over ecology, and is a central part of the Earthcharter. Caring for the environment, for the scarce resources, for nature and the Earth have become imperatives of the new discourse. Finally, caring has been seen as essential to understanding the human being, as Martin Heidegger wrote in Being and Time, taking up a tradition that dates back to the Greeks, Romans and early Christian thinkers, such as Saint Paul and Saint Augustine.
Moreover, it has been shown that the category of caring gains strength whenever there are crises. Caring keeps crises from being transformed into fatal tragedies.
The First world War (1914-1918), fought between Christian countries, destroyed the illusory glamour of the Victorian age, and produced a profound sense of metaphysical helplessness. That was when Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) wrote his genial Being and Time (1929), whose central paragraphs (§ 39-44) are devoted to caring as the ontology of the human being.
During the Second World War, (1939-1945), the pediatrician and psychologist D. W. Winnicott (1896-1971) was notable. He was charged by the British government with caring for orphan children, victims of the horrors of the Nazi bombardment of London. He developed an entire reflection and praxis around the concepts of caring (care), of concern for the other (concern), and all the caring and support that must be offered to children or other vulnerable persons (holding), and are also applicable to the processes of growth and education.
In 1972 the Club of Rome sounded the alarm about the sorry ecological state of the Earth. The Club of Rome identified the principal cause: our development model, consumerist, predatory, forgetful and with no form of caring, either for the scarce resources or the way we treat waste, much of which is harmful and not assimilated by nature. After several gatherings organized by the UN in the 1980s, it culminated in a proposal of sustainable development as an expression of human caring towards the environment, but it was still mainly focused on the economic aspect.
In 1991, the United Nations Program for the Environment, (PNUMA), The World Fund for Nature, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, developed a thorough strategy for the future of the planet, under the motto, Caring for the Earth, 1991. That document states:
The ethic of caring applies both on the international and national level, and the individual level as well; no nation is self sufficient, all will benefit with world sustainability and all will be threatened if we not achieve it.
Following this line of thought, after eight years of work at the world level, in March, 2000 theEarthcharter was completed in Paris. The category of caring and the sustainable mode of living constitute the two principal articulating axes of the new ecological, ethical and spiritual discourse proposed by this document. In 2003, UNESCO officially assumed the Earthcharter and offered it as a substantial pedagogical instrument to build humanity's collective responsibility for our common future.
In 2003, the ministers and secretaries of the environment of the Latin American and Caribbean countries developed the notable document, Manifesto for life, for an ethic of sustainability which included the category of caring in the idea of an effectively sustainable and radically human development.
Caring is especially present in the two extremes of life: at birth and at death. The child cannot exist without caring. The moribund needs care to leave this life with dignity.
When a group creates a crisis that generates tensions and divisions, the wisdom of caring is the best path for listening to the parties, for encouraging dialogue and seeking agreement. Caring prevails when a health crisis occurs that requires hospitalization. Then, the caring by physicians, male and female nurses who decide on the best treatment is called into action.
Caring is absolutely necessary in practically all spheres of existence, from caring for the body, for nourishment, intellectual and spiritual life, and the over-all handling of life, up to crossing a busy street. As the Roman poet Horacio observed, caring is «like a shadow that always is with us and never abandons us because our existence started with caring».
Today, given the general crisis, be it social or environmental, caring becomes essential for preserving the integrity of Mother Earth and safeguarding the continuity of our species and our civilization.
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