Matters of Care
Last month, a scholar I follow on twitter mentioned that he wished "academics prized being kind as much as they do being right." At first, I couldn't agree more and apparently so too did over 800 other people. I mean, who wouldn't agree that a little more kindness in the world would be a great thing. And then, the matter started tickling my brain...
I have been around a lot of different communities over the years—from working as a ramp agent for a small airline to teaching yoga in one of the wealthiest areas of the nation—and this tweet got me wondering: "who does prize kindness, both in general and specifically?" It's easy to start making generalizations about others "out there," but it's also just as easy to start making generalizations about our own communities, the ones we might be too close to see with any accuracy. Everyone seems to find it easy to point the finger at those in finance and claim they care only for the bottom dollar and not a hoot for kindness. While patently wrong (I met some very kind-hearted philanthropists in that industry), it's equally as easy to miss the kindness we witness every day if it's something we've become accustomed to being around. I think that's the case with academics and educators.
I don't think I've ever met as many kind people any where, in any "profession" or lifestyle, that are kind as the people in education, and I include academics. The scholar who tweeted this is one of the kindest people I've met, giving me sage advice upon my return to my Ph.D. studies. Likewise, my dissertation directors are some of the kindest people I've ever had the privalege of dealing with. They are as equally patient and supportive as they are insightful and rigorous. My colleagues at high school are kind, giving themselves to a profession that is consistently undervalued by nearly everyone. While all of them do indeed prize being right, or at least the pursuit of truth, I do think they also prize kindness.
To be sure, there's a long way to go. But, I do think academics already have a solid foundation of kindness on which to build. Perhaps to to further my concern and education for both kindness and truth, I picked up a copy of Maria Puig de la Bellacasa's Matters of Care. I'm eager to read through it as it promises to "contest the view that care is something only humans do." Maybe, if we can see care more often in the world around us, we might see it more often in others and ourselves. Hopefully, it would help us realize that we can and should care just as much about kindness as being right, academics or otherwise.