The Ethics of Care: Rescuing Human Values
We begin the year with a positive message, based on our Humanity. It is a message full of Peace, Love, Understanding, Joy, Protection and Kindness. To do this, we introduce the ethics of care: rescuing Human Values , since we consider this as one of the main “predictive attitudes and preventive cultures” on which the slogan of the OveHum InterNational is based.
Introducing the Ethics of Care
The first time children were recognized as holders of rights was in 1924 with the Geneva Declaration. This was then repeated in 1948 for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and finally in 1989 on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This set of norms indicate to mankind the need to consider every human being from 0 to 18 years old as a subject of special protection, with preferential treatment in the family, society, and the State. This establishes the Superior Interest of the Child as a principle that should guide all the measures taken in relation to Childhood and Adolescence. The ideal complement to achieve this goal is to apply the ethics of care in every decision, action, and thought
What do we mean by care?
Care is a natural practice that people develop, both with themselves, as with others and with the environment. The way in which care giving is oriented responds to interests related to survival, happiness, protection of life, and the pursuit of security. But it also includes concepts present in “convivencia” (living together in harmony), whether in society, cultural, family, religious, or at school.
In fact, it can be very effective when it comes to defining relationships where there are subjects that depend on the authority and responsibility of others, as is the case of children and adolescents.
To achieve this kind of reflection it is necessary to ask some questions:
- What is meant by care?
- How and how can do it?
- What are the scope and the limits of care?
With these questions we can make a reflection on care as an ethical concern, seeking concepts with which we can all agree. In addition, we can discuss criteria of justice as a search for the common good, and raise a rights approach, as a source and limit of the actions of caring. From this approach we can guide the relations between the members of the Global Humanized Citizenship we defend from the OveHum InterNational.
The ethics of care mainly analyzes three aspects:
- The role that emotions play in life, and how they affect our perception and projection of reality,
- The sensitive (being empathic) approach to the specific context or situation we are experiencing, and
- The world of relationships with oneself, others and the environment.
We generally identify this role assigned to women (in another posts we will address the different competencies or attitudinal pre-disposition of men and women). However, this role does not depend on gender or social class. It is an ethical competence, which must be learned from early childhood and for life. In fact, we begin to internalize this competence in the womb, not only because of the “care” directly related to us, but also to the environment and set of sounds, sensations, and feelings that the mother develops from conception.
Thus care is a capacity that all human beings have for giving and receiving, with the main objective of enriching relationships. This action must be carried out under conditions of equality, integrating variables such as the socio-cultural context, the rational aspects, and the emotional aspects.
The ethics of care reminds us of the moral obligation we all have as human beings not to act unfairly with others. In other words, we have a responsibility to attend, not to abandon, not to turn our back on the needs of others.
From thought to practice
To think ethically is to think for the good of others, for the common good. We can think of people who are special in our lives, but we can also project that thought to other human beings we do not know personally. Thanks to the empathic capacity that is part of our nature, we can perceive the contradictory situations that other human beings are living. This condition as a human being is inherent to the person, and makes us the same in situations of vulnerability.
When we set this way of thinking about humanity into practice, we activate a series of attitudes of protection, concern, kindness and compassion that are essential in the ethics of care.
When we acquire these attitudes, care is built as the main axis of interaction between people. An interaction, in which care is taken, requires a constant exchange of information in both directions, mutual communication. In this way, the people involved always seek to understand very well what the other needs before acting; asking, listening and observing with attention. In addition, the other needs to be willing to express his/her own needs, thoughts and emotions, in order to facilitate mutual understanding and communication.
The climate generated as a result of applying the ethics of care to our attitudes and life experiences decreases aggressiveness and violent behaviors. The ethics of care improves our humanity. It is a positive message, a message of Peace, Love, Understanding, Joy, Protection, and Kindness.
Author: Gonzalo Torquemada