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Progressive Values Stories: Attica on Caring

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Message Edwin Rutsch
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 I met Attica at a house party in Oakland, California. Attica talked about the progressive value of caring about our friends, our communities, our families, our country, the world.  I enjoyed hearing her childhood 'funny moment' story of learning about caring from her grandparents.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."  Leo Buscaglia

"Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community."  Anthony J. D'Angelo

Progressive Values Stories: Attica on Caring

Attica:  Progressive values to me are about people, and that people matter.  People matter foremost.  Of course, people are not the only thing that matters.  Of course, we all need money, food and shelter, education and opportunity.  We need a clean planet on which to live.  Those are things that I feel progressives are interested in. 

And people who don’t identify themselves as progressives?  If they want those things, then they have progressive values.  I think that’s an important thing, because a lot of people don’t identify themselves as progressive.  A lot of people consider themselves to be conservatives, but they believe in those things too.  And they have progressive values if they believe in that.

Edwin:  Can you take it to an emotional level?  What would you say are the emotions?

Answer:  Emotionally, it’s about doing what’s right.  It’s about a sense of integrity, about being humane and compassionate.  Understanding – being open-minded enough to understand that we all have our own perspectives.  But that that’s okay, and not only just okay, but that we need to have lots of different perspectives.

And just caring.  Caring about our friends, our communities, our families, our country, the world.  I think that’s the emotional level.

Edwin:  Is that a value of yours, caring?

Answer:  Yes.  Absolutely.

Edwin:  And how did you come to that value?  When in your life did that become important to you?

Answer:  I think it’s always been important to me, and I think part of that is how I was raised.  I was raised to some extent to know that it was important to care about people, about important things.  And to take a sense of personal responsibility, not just for myself but for the world I live in. 

Edwin:  Can you remember a moment where you had one of those reflections that it was important?

Answer:  Here’s a funny moment, actually.  When I was a kid, four or five years old, one Christmas I was very much focused on if I was going to get the things I had requested as Christmas gifts.  Or am I going to get some things that I’m not really satisfied with, but they will do?  That’s totally where my focus was.  But Christmas I went down and looked at the tree, and there were three gifts under the tree, with a tag on them with the name of a child I didn’t recognize.  So I asked my grandparents, “who is this kid?”.  And they explained to me that there was a boy that they knew about who had otherwise not had Christmas   gifts.  And they wanted to give him some gifts.  And I was kind of feeling like, “Well, is that your responsibility?  Why does your Christmas budget have to allot extra for some kid I never even heard of before.  Maybe I wouldn’t even like that kid.”

But you know, they continued to explain to me why it was important to them to give these gifts to that kid.  And I thought, wow, that’s really nice of them.  As a kid I couldn’t articulate compassion but I thought, “that’s really nice of them.”  And I still got things that were really fine, but just the fact that they thought it was important enough to reach out to another that we didn’t have any relationship to, just that they cared.  And that was a great example to me

More  Resources about Caring.

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Founder of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. The Culture of Empathy website is a growing portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, (more...)
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