Aspiration doesn’t do it for me, but care definitely does

Posted on

The word aspiration does not do it for me. I have already explained that I do, of course, aspire to many thing, but in current political debate the word aspiration appears far too often to mean the gratification of the desire to consume for it to have any acceptable political connotation that I would wish to share. That has not, however, stopped it becoming part of the current centre ground debate in British politics. That is because, I have no doubt, this debate is playing to the personal consumption agenda.

That then leaves a question. What is the word around which those who do not put personal consumption as their highest goal wish to coalesce in debate? I have given some thought to this issue, and the need for that one chosen word to convey a sufficient message within itself to communicate both what people feel and what an organisation that might use it, even as its organisational title, might stand for. The word I have so far settled on is 'care'.

I care. 

I care about me. And my family. It would be wholly inappropriate, and no one would believe me, if I said I did not.

But I care about other people too. Not just those I know. Or just those in my locality. But people at large. I want the best for them, as I do for my own.

In that case I care about what income they have.

And I care about the opportunities they enjoy.

And I care about their education, security and healthcare too. 

Importantly though, I think care is a verb. Anyone can say they care. What matters is making sure care is evidenced by things happening. That's what care as a verb requires. And in this context I know my limitations.

I can't by myself care for everyone, of course. That is only possible collectively and that is not possible whimsically, which is the basis of philanthropy. Care requires systemic collective action that is accountable and subject to appropriate decision making. It's precisely because I care that I believe in government and what it can do for people.

But it's also because I care that I value each person individually, and their own individual rights.

And it's because I care that I want to and can reconcile the paradox of believing in both collective and individual rights.

It's because I care that I want to pay the tax that lets me express my care communally. But it's the same care that also makes me want that tax to be paid equitably, accountably, consistently and by all who owe it at the time that it is payable. 

So of course I care about me, my family, my friends, my community, and the world beyond it. But I believe that mutual care requires us to act for each other, and to share, most especially with those in need.

I believe we must care for the young and the elderly, the poor and the disabled.

And that we must care to make sure all business can compete fairly and openly so that we can share our common wealth whilst preserving the right to individual property.

We must relieve poverty.

We must build sustainably if we care for our children.

We must have businesses that deliver what our communities need, and trained people who can own, run and work within them.

We must educate.

And we must protect people from risk.

That's what caring does. And that's why it's so much more powerful than aspiration. Aspiration does not deliver. Care does. I know which I would rather have.