Today a local carer advocacy group was selling cupcakes in the market square. One woman oversaw the money box while another woman chatted away, wearing her “24/7 Family Carers” t-shirt. I thought of how it’s been mostly women caring for the world since time immemorial: making the food, checking on the babies, tending the elderly and sick, making sure someone got home safely at night, and attending the protests; caring not only their own flesh and blood, but anyone with a heart, anyone who needed support and care. It was ever thus, through the best and worst of times.
In a world where care is increasingly rare, more a commodity, almost a luxury, caring for others freely is perhaps a radical act in itself. Yes, humans practice care, to various degrees, for each other, for friends, family, the animals in their lives, coworkers and neighbours, and the people they encounter on a daily basis. But in the present and the past, I have met certain people—all women—who volunteer for everything, who canvass during electoral campaigns, and organise against the big baddies of their time. They give so much, so selflessly, to an idea of community based on social justice and compassion. Such selflessness, in a society that rewards selfishness with prestige and high monetary award, is often construed as reckless and foolish. It feels radical to me, a way of being that is difficult to emulate but it would change the world if we did.
That said, the fact that it feels radical probably shows how detached I am from everything, in dissertation-land…