Our world, I said in the previous post, is largely burdened by a race ahead of consumption: we do not repair things in general, we impatiently throw them at the first fault to replace them with newer replacement goods or efficient. And it is in this act of ignorance or neglect that many economists see the essential factor of our growth ! (In the way that the profits of capital supposed, to increase still more, the draconian impoverishment of the tasks devolved, on the assembly line, to underpaid O.S..)
The innumerable attitudes of contemporary neglect seem impossible to enumerate, but our (de) confinement offers striking examples of this, whenever we are exempt from basic solidarity, or from the elementary concern for the common good. It starts with the protective mask abandoned on the sidewalks (there are many in the cities, left to the load of the sweepers); the difficulties in inculcating sorting of household waste in the French join the resistance of some to apply barrier gestures: in the queue (poorly respected) of a store, Odile was told, by a man who asked why he was not wearing the mask, “Oh you know, contamination is mainly caught by thought …” How many intimately think that these measures are not for them, obviously and in any case protected, or protected from everything danger ? The law undoubtedly exists, they do not contest it, but (as Kant suggests) we can always make an exception, for once, or in my case… And this is how the devil resides in exceptions or cases individuals, so that evil flourishes.
How to (de) confine idiots or idiots?
How for example (classic problem in our info-com studies) to make sure that information does not change too quickly in prescription ? If we announce, as we are starting to do these days, a progress in the curves of contamination and well-being in hospitals, how to prevent this information from immediately turning into an invitation to let go, to resume your habits by rushing into the world before? How to avoid the rush on the beaches, the lawns of Champ-de-Mars, the banks of the Saint-Martin canal?
How is the teenager deprived of his motorbike for two months impatiently going to ride it to make the most noise? How will the children who are gently brought back to school respect the barrier gestures there?
The essence of care, I said earlier, is the recognition and culture of common, or of a certain continuity between me and the others: by the care I feel connected, united, and I respect (I cultivate) this relation which nourishes me and justifies me in return.
The idiocy of neglect, conversely, is according to the etymology of this term, idiot, to stay away from or below common forms; entrusting the elderly parents to the EHPAD as we throw away deficient objects; as some people abandon their dog on the highway for vacation; or as we get over it, in front of a child with academic difficulties in the good care of other agents, without paying too much attention to it. It is, faced with the obvious degradation of the planet, to persist in thinking “after me the flood” – too bad for water, too bad for air, there are specialists for this – to adopt all circumstances the behavior of the last man described by Nietzsche, the one who has no ancestry to respect or descent to feed or care for, the individual finally fully detached, proud of his freedom to come and go between planes, contacts as numerous as ephemeral on the Web, or consumer gadgets …
Variant of the previous neglect of the quidam in the tail: a lady complains loudly about the price of masks, she will not wear them until we give her a gift, the State has only to provide for them… This refusal to get involved, to take responsibility or to act by yourself is the same indifference to the common good, we are not part of it, taking care of it is not our business or, as requested Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper? “
We applaud each evening our guardians, and what would become of our society or our simple humanity without the crowd of these guards, these anonymous volunteers? But those who exempt themselves from these measures of good guard, or elementary safeguard, triumph on the cheap: the frivolous negligent, proud of their attitudes of overflight, are certainly not sick (or perhaps), but they must their health in the care of others, the majority who, protecting themselves, protect them. They find themselves, unknowingly or wanting to ignore it, considerably indebted. A better awareness of our solidarity will require awareness of this debt.
Distracted consumption by some is thus opposed to the active engagement of others. How to restore the taste between us of an embodied human action, which does not content itself with flying over the other, but which treats it in alter ego ? A good part of our culture now rests on the triple abstraction of science, largely mathematized, of money, which aligns value with market exchanges, of the individual who believes he is free and mobile, by denying any form of interdependence . Treat opposes this rising abstraction with a salutary poison; unlike any technical mastery, heal remains hazardous in its ways, and in its effects. This can always fail against unforeseen parameters, or completely controllable, as gardening, hunting or fishing can come back empty-handed – but with more observations or experience .
Maintaining or repairing is not in the nature of a production that would start from scratch, following a plan or assembly instructions: in care, there is other. And so, on the caregiver side, a constant return to self, is my gesture the right one, my adequate perception? The treatment involves a relationship of interpretation and deciphering, a hike in unknown territory. Healing is therefore incompatible with an autarkic closure of the subject incapable of leaving himself, or of contextualizing his own world by opening it up to other worlds.
The practical know-how or the care cannot be summed up either, be locked up once and for all in a program or protocol (book, computer), or downloaded. The much-vaunted telecommuting does not have much room, we cannot apply a massage on the internet any more than we can hammer a nail on a board. The care process, on the other hand, tends towards conversation (pragmatic situation par excellence, where each intervention triggers and directs that of the other without any possibility of overview or anticipation).
In short and without pretending to conclude, our debt towards others and the world cannot be minimized. Because we are dependent on an order of objects and subjects that we have not created, our neglect of them is a form of idiocy. Or ingratitude.