Dave Pollard's chronicle of civilization's collapse, creative works and essays on our culture.
A trail of crumbs, runes and exclamations along my path in search of a better way to live and make a living, and a better understanding of how the world really works.



May 18, 2010

The Hard Part is Finding People Who Care

Filed under: Preparing for Civilization's End — Dave Pollard @ 23:54

don quixote picassoQuite often first-time readers of this blog, or who hear that I have a blog called “How to Save the World” ask me to sum up, in one sentence, the answer to the question implied by this blog’s name. My response has generally been to smile and shrug off the question, and then explain what this blog is about:

  • Understanding how the world really works (not the oversimplified crap the education system, corporatists, politicians, and mainstream media feed us, but not a conspiracy either — it’s very complex, evolved as it has for understandable and well-intentioned reasons, and no one is in control), and
  • Exploring models of better ways to live and make a living, both in the short-term (through experiments like the Transition, Permaculture, Intentional Community, Gift/Generosity/Relationship Economy, and Unschooling movements) and more fully in the longer term, when our civilization collapses, which I believe will occur through a protracted series of cascading crises, in this century.

And of course, if we’re going to “save the world” we need to build our own connections, capacities and competencies, and we need to work to undermine and defeat the worst aspects of industrial civilization.

So I didn’t expect I’d ever be able to provide a one-line answer to “how to save the world”.

But I was re-reading some of my recent creative works (since I intend to do more poetry, short story, speculative fiction, music and art composition this year) and I came across this line in a recent story I’d written:

The hard part is finding people who care.

And I thought: That’s what I should say when people ask me “how to save the world”. For a whole series of reasons:

  1. In our individualistic western society, we try to do far too much alone. We need to organize, to cooperate, to collaborate. But we’re all so busy, so distracted, we don’t (most of us) have time or energy to learn what needs to be done, or to help get that work done. Finding others who can help, and know and care to do so, is even harder.
  2. Enthusiasm drives a huge proportion of human endeavour. If we don’t really care, we will be hesitant to act, and we’ll give up easily in the face of adversity.
  3. In my book Finding the Sweet Spot two of my key points are: (a) never start an enterprise alone; first find partners who share your passion and have complementary skills, and (b) the work you’re meant to do lies at the intersection of what you do uniquely well, what is needed in the world that no one else is precisely meeting, and what you have passion for.
  4. We all need love to keep us going. Finding love is all about finding people who care.
  5. Before we can care about something, we need to know about it. The important issues in the world today are complex, and it takes a lot of work to really know about them. So finding people who know, and who also care, is really hard.

I have no answer to “How do we find people who care?” and so, I admit, answering the question “How do we save the world” by saying “The hard part is finding people who care” is kinda like answering a question with a question. But I think it’s an honest answer, and one that can lead to a very important conversation on the huge challenges we face connecting, organizing, adapting, and collaborating to address the daunting and intractable problems of our time, problems which have us wondering “how to save the world”.

While I have no answers on how to find people who care, I have a few thoughts:

First, perhaps instead of asking people we’ve just met what they “do” (usually “for a living”), we should ask them what they care about. What keeps them awake at night. What they would die for. And likewise when others ask us what we “do” we should deflect the question and instead tell them what we really care about. If there’s an obvious disconnect between what we/they do and what we/they care about, that in itself should be the basis for an interesting and soul-searching conversation: Why the disconnect, and what can we do about it? And if the conversation resolves that you and the other(s) you’re speaking with care about the same things, then so much more will have been accomplished than in you had merely exchanged data on your current employment.

My sense is that many of us are so disconnected from our feelings and so busy doing what we must that we don’t really know what we care about ourselves. So perhaps our ‘homework’ before seeking people who care about the same things we do is to explore inside and outside ourselves to discover what we really care about. Not what we’ve been told we should care about, not what we’ve imagined we would care about, but, when we really know ourselves, intellectually, emotionally, erotically, intuitively, sensually, somatically, what we really care about, at heart.

Another realization I’m coming to is that in order to discover if someone cares about the things you do, you first must establish a relationship with them, to give them context to understand what the issues are you care about, and why, and vice versa, and to establish a basis of trust, since talking about what you really care about isn’t something you’re going to do comfortably and easily with strangers. This investment in relationship building is expensive — it requires a major investment of time.

Most of us try to “filter” the people in our lives to hone in on those who care about the same things we do. But those filters (especially the online ones, including our blogs and other social networking media) are pretty rough, and they can filter out the wrong people. Perhaps instead of looking so far afield, casting a global net, we should instead be looking closer to home, looking in the place that, for whatever reason, we have selected as our “place”, to see if the people who care about the same things we care about have been drawn to this “place” for the same reasons we have. Perhaps the “filter” of chosen place to live is a better, simpler one than the ones our online social networks employ? And while the anonymity of the web is a safer, more comfortable place from which to assess possible partners for projects of passion, for relationships and collaborations that matter, maybe we need to put ourselves out there, raw, in the physical place in which we’ve chosen to live, and dare to tell the people right there what we care about, and why, if we really want to find the people who care about those things, too.

The people we’re meant to love, and live with, and make a living with. The people we’d give our lives for.

24 Comments

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave Pollard. Dave Pollard said: The Hard Part is Finding People Who Care http://goo.gl/fb/GRZtw [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention The Hard Part is Finding People Who Care « how to save the world -- Topsy.com — May 19, 2010 @ 00:15

  2. [...] The Hard Part is Finding People Who Care « how to save the world [...]

    Pingback by Viral Twitter Power » Blog Archive » Find people on Twitter tool (Please Test)? — May 19, 2010 @ 03:59

  3. I don’t think saying that it’s hard to find people who care is strictly accurate without more qualification. All people care about “something,” and most of them even want to “save the world” in some way, but the “how” is what leads to so much debate and division. I think the problem is really that we are constantly lied to by our consumer-driven culture about anything that might hurt someone’s profit margin regardless of how destructive it really is to our health or environment. When I watch television, for example, I feel like I’m being lied to by every commercial, the news, and most other programs, as well. It really bothers me now, though I never used to be aware of how pervasive it is. By and large, I’d like to believe that most people will want to do the right thing when presented with clear, unambiguous facts, but even when that happens (rarely) it can still be very difficult for them to change course when it means it will cost them more time and money. Of course, it also doesn’t help that special interests and established institutions put so much effort into obscuring the truth if it might hurt their bottom line. That leaves people unsure of what to believe and consequently which direction to go (which usually ends up being the easier path). The best we can do is to help others see the truth, and the more people that repeat it, the more strength it will gain in steering people closer to your way of caring. I, for one, am very glad that you are here to advocate for the truth so eloquently through this blog. Thank you! I am personally guilty of not speaking my mind often enough to challenge others, but am working to improve…

    Comment by Ryan — May 19, 2010 @ 10:49

  4. Ryan has a good point there. Still, it does seem to me that what people care about tends to be a little superficial. On the other hand, I do wonder what there is deeper down inside the people I interact with, because I know there are things about myself I don’t exactly broadcast because it may seem a bit radical or “odd”. There is definitely a seed of something in a number of people I know, as if they have some understanding on a primordial level, but it is overwhelmed by the pressures of “practicality” in the current society.

    As usual, you have given me something to think about. I suppose if we can at least find a few people local to our homes who share some of the same passions for developing new models for living that is a good step. The trouble with thinking of how to save the world is that it seems too much, but like any large project, you have to start with small steps.

    Comment by Nathan — May 19, 2010 @ 14:39

  5. I don’t think saying that it’s hard to find people who care is strictly accurate without more qualification. All people care about “something,” and most of them even want to “save the world” in some way, but the “how” is what leads to so much debate and division. I think the problem is really that we are constantly lied to by our consumer-driven culture about anything that might hurt someone’s profit margin regardless of how destructive it really is to our health or environment. When I watch television, for example, I feel like I’m being lied to by every commercial, the news, and most other programs, as well. It really bothers me now, though I never used to be aware of how pervasive it is. By and large, I’d like to believe that most people will want to do the right thing when presented with clear, unambiguous facts, but even when that happens (rarely) it can still be very difficult for them to change course when it means it will cost them more time and money. Of course, it also doesn’t help that special interests and established institutions put so much effort into obscuring the truth if it might hurt their bottom line. That leaves people unsure of what to believe and consequently which direction to go (which usually ends up being the easier path). The best we can do is to help others see the truth, and the more people that repeat it, the more strength it will gain in steering people closer to your way of caring. I, for one, am very glad that you are here to advocate for the truth so eloquently through this blog. Thank you! I am personally guilty of not speaking my mind often enough to challenge others, but am working to improve…
    +1

    Comment by chinabyte.com — May 19, 2010 @ 21:43

  6. thanks dave for this thought provloking post. it’s inspiring. i’ll think on it, so to post my own thoughts on the matter. off the top of my head, i agree it’s hard to find people who care, or who care enough. perhaps i’m guilty myself on both accounts. i do care. i live with guilt that burdens me. i must fight this, so i may help – help myself, help others. perhaps it’s the type of caring, passive vs active. i find this world difficult to accept as it is. it’s paralyzing. beneath the global narrative, each of us has a unique story of being cared about/loved. our individual histories reflect how we care – confidently, tentatively, submissively… to care for the world we must first feel loved. we must feel like we are an authority on love. then we can act. to make change in the world, i’ve always said that knowledge is the answer. i’ve since included compassion. i think love creates a trinity.

    Comment by dN — May 20, 2010 @ 00:17

  7. But those filters (especially the online ones, including our blogs and other social networking media) are pretty rough, and they can filter out the wrong people.

    Especially when you limit the ways that you connect and converse with other people.

    Comment by Jon Husband — May 20, 2010 @ 08:13

  8. I had a dream once that elucidated that it’s not that we are loved, but that we are love. Pure, simple. When I can live from that place, I care tremendously. When I’m living from the place that we are loved, not as much, and when I live from the place of seeking to be loved, much less.

    Thanks for the wonderful reminder today, Dave.

    Comment by Beth Patterson — May 20, 2010 @ 08:14

  9. So Ryan, you said: “I feel like I’m being lied to by every commercial, the news, and most other programs, as well.”

    I am curious… why do you keep on watching? Do you feel uneasy about unplugging the boob box cuz you wanna “keep informed”?

    Comment by vera — May 20, 2010 @ 10:50

  10. My experience is that less than 10% care about anything else but the normal daily life. The boring complexity of finances is currently disrupting daily life.

    Money, an imaginary concept people think it is real, is making us to behave in very odd manners. The way in which banks create money out of thin air, while people have to work for money is outraging.

    Comment by P.L. — May 20, 2010 @ 12:05

  11. Hey, Vera! If I lived alone, I think it would be rare indeed for the television to be on. Alas, my loved ones are not quite as disenchanted as I am, and the youngest even think there’s a solution being advertised for every problem I have! “Daddy, just call Debt Eliminators and they’ll pay all your bills!” That just drives the point a little deeper each day. I could forbid television in the home, but I don’t think for a moment that would solve the problem…

    Comment by Ryan — May 21, 2010 @ 14:30

  12. I completely agree with this article, and have come to the exact same conclusion myself. People care yes, but they only care when they absolutely have to, or for people who they have built long term deep relationships for. People only care when it is directly affecting themselves or those they care deeply about.

    Rarely do people have the real care for others, it is usually superficial caring they somehow think they are supposed to do, will earn them good brownie points, or make themselves feel better.

    What the article explains, is caring enough to ask someone what they need instead of telling that person what they need.

    For those of us in society who don’t have the looks or personality “mask” that everyone wants, it is extremely difficult to find and establish good friendships. They’re “filtered” out like the article mentions, without ever being listened to or accepted in the first place. For me, I tend to find those who care simply by finding those who don’t filter me out in a heartbeat. I am constantly filtered out because I look far too much like the average Joe. But then when people build a relationship with me, they soon realize I’m nothing like they thought I was (have been told that one far too many times), and have much to offer them in non-monetary values.

    Also, I typically look for the people who have been weeded out, because they tend to be the “wounded” healers of the world, who have the most solutions to the problems or see the problems the clearest.

    Comment by FreeThinker — May 21, 2010 @ 15:06

  13. [...] I especially like to read because of their ideas and passions.  So I could not let this quote from Dave Pollard go unrecorded [...]

    Pingback by On what you do and what you care about « Brad Hinton – plain speaking — May 21, 2010 @ 17:34

  14. In response to “be the love” comment above – Beth Patterson

    Love is the abstraction of the twin biological imperatives of survival and reproduction. It is just another cheap and seductive way we make ourselves feel good about our precious existence. Our love has resulted in gross over population with a grotesquely disproportionate grabbing and destruction of the finite bounty of our tiny dot of the cosmos. Curb the love face the facts. See Penti Linkola.

    Comment by Mayura — May 22, 2010 @ 05:56

  15. Thanks Dave
    I wonder if there are so many things to care about we are just overwhelmed .A kind of Care Defecit Disorder results, you must feel it yourself how do you determine what to throw yourself into ? We have a property in rural Australia close to a growing costal area and High Voltage Powerlines are about to cut a swathe through our valley and destroy large areas of Koala habitat. It is impossible to make our State Government reconsider its position. The local population apart from a small core group have largely been silent.I am sure many do care but feel helpless and overwhelmed I will try to apply some of what you talked about .Thanks

    Comment by Gerard — May 22, 2010 @ 18:57

  16. Thanks all for your thoughtful and stimulating comments. This blog of mine seems to be going through some major shifts, as am I, and it’s interesting to see who’s joining (and who’s leaving) the conversation, and the level of insight and sophistication of the ideas and perspectives that are appearing in these comments, and in the other comments that are sent to me by private e-mail and through the feeds of the blog on facebook, friendfeed etc.

    I am not suggesting that most people don’t care about anything, just that they are distracted from knowing enough about themselves and what’s going on to care about the same things we do, or that they’re so dumbed down and propagandized from all sides (media, corporations, politicians, religions) that they end up caring about what they’re told to care about, because they’re so hollowed out, so damaged by our industrial civilization that they no longer know, or feel, who they really are or what they really care about.

    Comment by Dave Pollard — May 24, 2010 @ 12:55

  17. Nice new blog here. I like to come and read once in awhile. I was sorry to read about the loss of your father. As it is an environmentalist blog I’d be interested to read your thoughts on the oil spill in the gulf.

    Comment by Theresa — May 26, 2010 @ 18:05

  18. I think that at some level, wanting people to care about “the world” boils down to wanting people to care about *your* world.

    I’d suggest a different route that I’m starting to find in the Intentional Peer Support work I do: practice caring about people who care about things you don’t. *Care that they care*. Paying the bills. Green teapots. Yikes, even football? Our cares are an expression of something beautifully human, and in cultivating the art of beholding each other’s, funnily enough we can find we have the world in common, in *company*. And then the healing of the planet is half way done.

    As either the Dalai Lama or Stephen Stills wrote, “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”.

    John

    Comment by John Graham — May 27, 2010 @ 02:23

  19. And so perhaps, the Hard Part is Finding People to Care About.

    Comment by John Graham — May 27, 2010 @ 03:10

  20. Every human being has the capacity to care because each of has basic goodness. But sometimes our lives are so polluted that we don’t even know it’s there. So to find people who care, find ways to clean up the distractions of everyday life in 2010. Help others to do the same. One person at a time. I meditate. I help my local meditation center put on programs that teach people about meditation. It’s hard work, but so worth it.

    Comment by Margaret Hallenbeck — May 27, 2010 @ 17:22

  21. Congrats Dave, I believe you are right on target.

    From the rest of your post, it is quite obvious what you mean, but the core of the question “what to care about”: caring about one’s only self or bank account won’t be enough to save the world.
    If you say “The hard part is finding people who care about ONE ANOTHER…”, then, in my perception, you are even closer to the saving the world. This is also in line with what you mention when you say “We all need love to keep us going. Finding love is all about finding people who care.” And then, this would also make some sort of synthesis of some of the comments above, such as those of Ryan and John.

    That said, you are right saying
    “many of us are so disconnected from our feelings and so busy doing what we must that we don’t really know what we care about ourselves”
    getting oneself to live for what he cares requires a jump in the void, requires facing the potential of utter failure because in many case no one would employ you for doing what you care about. And then there is the mortgage and the kids…
    This is why saving the world nowadays may require some sort of HEROISM, the heroism to care about one another, and to believe sufficiently in what you care about to give up the comfort of conformism.

    Comment by Herve — June 2, 2010 @ 02:26

  22. What do people care about? How to find people who care enough about the state of the world – environment, wildlife etc ..to turn that care into action? Great questions. I think people need to give themselves time to stop! every day, for 5 – 15 mins and just ‘be’, ‘sit’. When we give our frenzied brain time to calm, suddenly it’s obvious what we should be caring about and it’s obvious what we can be doing.

    Doing a small thing is powerful when every one does it!!! How often have we heard that? Walk or bike or take public transport two days a month you would normally take the car, recyle, buy less, sponsor an endangered animal as a gift instead of giving more socks!

    Endless opportunities to do a small thing daily. IMAGINE (as some-one famous once sang) the difference that would make if every one did it.
    Keep up the reflecting and the writing and the sharing,Dave.
    sibylle
    Australia
    “Saving Snow Leopards” website
    http://www.snowleopardblog.com

    Comment by Sibylle — June 5, 2010 @ 19:26

  23. People who show good behavior can turn bad later on. And the same goes opposite. When bad news is high announced in public, it is know wonder why people fall in the world of gossiping. The trend with no meaning of why they follow a false idea or model. For kids it’s like a just a game, people will try to copy other people’s work because for them it’s the easy way out. They prefer to cheat on answer that they do not know and use or exploit people to gain selfish work which is not their own. Imagine a world like that of people to be friends with. We rather not learn to be friends at all. A child’s behavior is learned and they learn it from an adult in most cases. Being around positive people provides strong character and good citizenship. It is indeed very difficult to find someone who cares about other people but if one pretends to be nice, we should be cautious of that as well because something else could be brewing up their sleeve. One may never know unless they ask why?

    Comment by Cathrina — June 19, 2010 @ 05:14

  24. Translates this: “Salvar el planeta es tarea de todos. Unidos, podemos hacer todo. No importa el tamño de las acciones, pues,pequeñas acciones pueden hacer grandes cambios.”

    Comment by Hello! — June 21, 2010 @ 18:29

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