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And, how much can we care?

Building on the train of thought within What really matters, how should we feel about life? Thinking about what matters is arguably a cerebral activity, but the meaning of it all clearly touches into the area of emotion. Caring about what we hear – going beyond the words to imagine, and feel, the reality of it all – seems this daunting but important step.

Humans, undoubtedly, are thinking creatures. That’s effectively what defines us: processing life at the level of thought; seeing and understanding events through the eyes of the mind; deciding our course of action based on that logic (Notes One). But then we’re also social creatures, seeing through the heart as we empathise with the experiences of others and let that have its influence on us as well.

That life of emotion, whether it’s social empathy or our own personal responses, is a powerful reality. Logic might compel us at times, but feelings also exert an equally if not more potent force in our lives. Which is why I’ve found myself asking before whether there might be limits to how much we can care; limits being sorely tested by modern ways of being (Notes Two).

With this new level of awareness the internet’s creating, questions of human capacity are being pushed to the fore in a number of ways. What is it to be human? Is it that we see the meaning behind pure logic, operating on that level as well? Modern technology might place the world in our pocket, but can we bring that knowledge to life in meaningful ways?

Is meaning then perhaps tied into feeling, to caring how other beings experience life? And, is the insight offered by technology even capable of being imbued with heartfelt understanding or is that too overwhelming a picture? I would’ve thought we ‘have’ to care, otherwise life risks making us less than human – careless about what we know.

That’s not saying it’s in any way easy to care. It’s not. It risks depression, anxiety, apathy, confusion, anger, resignation. But what are we without it? To me, humans aren’t truly cold, calculating beings who take what they can and give no thought to the bigger picture. We’re delightfully complex, social creatures who tend to seek the best for ourselves and others, as long as circumstances allow it.

In that light, is it wise to lend out our emotions to anyone who wishes to play a tune on them? Be it one of fear, hatred, or even misguided optimism. If emotions are powerful, how we make use of them seems crucial (Notes Three).

This idea of human capacity just intrigues me. Knowledge, insight and connection have, in many ways, been sparked by recent technological advancements. We now ‘have’ that level of awareness. But what we do with it – whether we can rise to the challenge of caring about everything that’s going on, realising the parts we play in it all, bringing our humanity to bear in that space – seems so open to question.

Notes and References:

Note 1: Strange arrogance of thought
Note 1: What are we thinking?
Note 1: Convergence and divergence
Note 2: Testing times
Note 2: Does anything exist in isolation?
Note 2: Value in visible impacts
Note 3: Fear or coercion as motivators
Note 3: It resonates, but should it be amplified
Note 3: Working through mind & society

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