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Caring, AKA 'giving a crap': Why it can make all the difference in our connected world.

Short of time?  Aspin's Essentials version is here.

Impoverished Ethiopians search a city trash dump site for food and items that they can sell or barter in the capital city of Addis Ababa.

Picture credit:  Zoriah zoriah/www.zoriah.com

Want to know what I think is the most exciting, interesting, and hopeful thing about our global digital connectedness?

Caring. 

Our ability to care, for each other and for our planet, and to scale that up beyond anything we've known before. 

Caring is going to be the game changer in almost every aspect of life.  Without it, we are truly screwed and should feel very depressed indeed.

But I choose to believe we can pull-off a different way of thinking. 

Purely on the anecdotal evidence, that's just from the subjective, imperfect measuring system I call "talking with people", I reckon there's growing interest in opening up new ways of looking at our world, at how humans might live together in it, and what the possibilities might be for finding meaning and purpose.

I don't think it's mumbojumbo or crazy thinking. 

I believe this expanding interest comes from millions of folk recognising a desire for something more than just superficial, selfish, increasingly comfortable and consumption driven lives that many seem to have embraced and found wanting.

I think there's good reason to believe, even from my own limited conversations and discoveries, that a deeper, more meaningful life can grow and flourish when we nurture our care for others, our kindness, love, and compassion.

This sort of thinking is in line with the findings of researchers like Dr. Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a founder of the "positive psychology" movement.  He describes the ultimate state of human happiness as "knowing your highest strengths and deploying them in the service of something larger than you are". 

Caring for others and our world is definitely "larger than you are"!

Picture credit:  Tibchris  A less fortunate person waking up to a beautiful morning in San Francisco.

Social networks, the social web, are not in themselves an end (obviously!), but they are hugely useful tools to help us scale up our caring.

Since spring of this year, when I began to discover what it means to connect with people online, I've been blown away by the number, and calibre, of caring people I've found. 

Without these digital technology enabled communities, it's unlikely our paths would have crossed.  Maybe some would, but most, definitely not, since geography, lifestyle, busyness, time shortages, and so on, made it almost impossible to connect in any meaningful way.

Now, we can build relationships we so many people. 

We can be part of all kinds of things that are much bigger than ourselves.  And through shared values, projects, ideas, information and resources, we can join our caring forces, build momentum, and make a positive difference in so many new ways, and improved old ways.

Picture credit:  Wonderlane Begging in Bangladesh - a child caring for a child in poverty.

Caring, AKA "giving a crap", is the factor that will make all the difference in our world.

People who care make things happen.  They are arsed.  They get up when they've been pushed over.  They press on.  They see what matters - that's what they care about - and they focus on it.  They find a way to do what needs to be done. 

Before digital connectedness, and the real, face to face relationships that are emerging for us day by day through it, I knew there were caring, world-changing, amazing people "out there" somewhere, but it was often difficult, to find them and to feel very connected.

In the hectic rush of daily living, those great people seemed few, and far between.  When I did find them, for reasons I've already mentioned, and despite their willingness, were not so easily accessible.

A solution to the limitations of our capacity to care.

No matter how much we care, want to help others, change things, make a difference, we can't do much on our own, since we as individuals are "not scale-able".

We need other people.  I need other people.  I need their help.  I want to help them too.  Those people are YOU.

And when it comes to wanting to do something useful and meaningful with my life, to make it count for something, and to share that something with like minded people, I don't think, thanks to all of YOU, I'll ever need to feel totally isolated again. 

And neither should YOU!

If you found this post helpful, please pass it on.  There's more inspiring stuff here:  "A Life Less Selfish".

I love it that you bothered to read this post.  I hope you found it helpful, thanks!  I always like to know what you think.  Did you find others who share your passion to make a difference?  How does our digital connectedness change things?  Any tips for finding like-minded caring people?  See you in the comments.  Much love, Ian.

Your comments:


1-5
Brandy mendez says:
21/02/2012 12:38:03

Ian, THANK YOU! Your words inspire me. I came across this blog by accident really or should I say divine calling. I was doing some research for a presentation I'm giving about black history. My presentation really sums up giving and caring for others. And as I typed in "pictures of people giving and caring for one another" Your beautiful picture on your site popped up. Your words speak to me on every level. My way of caring for others is by spreading the word, bringing awareness to others to live selflessly. Thank you for your passion. You have truly touched my heart.
Sophie says:
09/11/2011 21:44:59

This sort of thinking is in line with Jesus' teaching, could that 'service to something larger than you are' be God, the one who cares more deeply for anyone and everyone than anyone could ever imagine? I love this article and I hope you'll ask God and people who know him, about these things, question God, see what he says. These things are so of his character, all your missing is him, because there's more to life than even just caring, there's salvation through Jesus, an end to death and a relationship with God. Much love : )
Maree says:
15/11/2009 22:47:42

These beautifully crafted words speak directly to my heart. As a planet loving vegan, I have found so much more than entertainment on the WWW. I've found my voice, comfort, friendship, support, information, resources, and a wonderful medium that allows me to try to make a difference for abandoned & abused animals. "Caring" is the most encouraging word and powerful word we can add to our vocabulary and our lives. I love that people can "be arsed" to speak up or even just to read and learn, and to allow this new wealth of information to sink in and guide our future choices and actions. I love that I have found yet another kindred spirit Ian - thank you for your beautiful thought and words. May we all live to see a more caring world.
Chris Pope says:
15/11/2009 10:49:59

Ian, you always were great with words and had a heart the size of a small planet. Truly blessed to feel connected with you, your insights, your outward facing compassion and the fact you are trying to do something about what you feel and believe in. Keep it up mate - and it would be so good to catch up with you in real life. Failing that, here's to more in the reality of the 21st redeemed community :)
Chris Pope says:
15/11/2009 10:49:59

Ian, you always were great with words and had a heart the size of a small planet. Truly blessed to feel connected with you, your insights, your outward facing compassion and the fact you are trying to do something about what you feel and believe in. Keep it up mate - and it would be so good to catch up with you in real life. Failing that, here's to more in the reality of the 21st redeemed community :)
1-5

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IAN ASPIN

  • Ian AspinLocation: Lancaster Lake District, UK
  • Bio: I’m passionate about my work:TV journalist, producer, presenter, business ideas person. I care about: family, friends, helping people, finding meaning, running