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Diana Jordan Allende:

"I am indebted to Milton Mayeroff’s little book On Caring for a philosophical perspective on this commonplace human endeavor, although I daresay there is a wealth of information–nay, wisdom--readily at hand in this room, for I believe that each of us has experienced caring deeply about some one or some thing or some idea–and probably all of the above.

Mayeroff defines caring as helping “the other” to grow, whether “the other” is another person, an idea, or, say, a community. The “other” can be anything to which one is related, but which also has its own value, independent of us and the value we assign it.

Insisting that “helping the other to grow” is central to caring, for Mayeroff caring is different from “wishing well, liking, comforting and maintaining, or simply having an interest in what happens to another.” It is also not an isolated feeling or a momentary relationship. Caring, he says, is a process. It takes place over time. It requires and builds on such qualities as knowing the other, mutual trusting, patience, honesty, humility, hope and courage. As you can see, caring becomes–over time–a specific way of being in the world. It shapes us. And caring people are drawn to other caring people, which is interesting when you consider that we say each Sunday, that the Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is valuable to us especially as a “caring, committed community, whose words and deeds enlighten our minds with reason and warm our hearts with love.” Exactly! We help each other grow and we ‘grow’ our community through our caring commitment!

Here’s what Mayeroff says of caring as a way of life: “In the context of a person’s life, caring has a way ordering other values and activities around it. When this ordering is comprehensive, because of the inclusiveness of one’s carings, there is a basic stability in one’s life; one is ‘in-place’ in the world, instead of being out of place. Through caring for certain others, by serving them through caring, a person lives the meaning of his or her own life. In the sense in which a person can ever be said to be at home in the world, he or she is at home not through dominating, or explaining, or appreciating, but through caring and being cared for.” (