Hello friends. This entry has been resting here in the comfort of the WordPress realm for quite some time. Though the post itself is long overdue, I am embarrassed that it has been nearly four years since I have created an etymology entry. Before I get started with this particular entry, I need to mention that within my last post I failed to add one important aspect of what I wanted to convey and that is related to the title itself — ‘Each with Their Own Secret Care’. What I wanted to add is that as you interact with your fellow humans roaming around this big blue planet, some may come across as standoffish, rude, hurtful, angry or just plain nasty in general. Being the type of person that attempts to search for the beauty within all souls, I realize that the person you see is not necessarily a representation of the person as a whole. That person may have a plethora of things going on to cause certain behaviors and unless we sit with them and get to know them, we can never fully understand what it means to be them. Think of all the things that can go wrong in a person’s life — losing a job, a loved one passes, unrequited love, a detrimental health diagnosis, financial woes and the list goes on. In a world where we are becoming more detached from one another with the aid of technology (think texting instead of actual conversations, immersion into a computerized tablet of some sort, etc.) we are losing an amazing opportunity to interact with one another and grow our communities and perhaps more important lifting people up who may need it. I think perhaps the Lorax said it best:
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
This etymological entry serves many a purpose as there are many facets to the word care.
When consultiong my beautiful book ‘An Etymological Dictionary’ by Skeat, the entry reads as follows:
CARE, anxiety, heedfulness. (English derivation) from the Middle English, care. Used in the long poem LAYAMON’S BRUT. From Wikipedia:
Layamon’s Brut (ca. 1190 – 1215), also known as The Chronicle of Britain, is a Middle English poem compiled and recast by the English priest Layamon. The Brut is 16,095 lines long and narrates the history of Britain: it is the first historiography written in English since the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Named for Britain’s mythical founder, Brutus of Troy, the poem is largely based on the Anglo-Norman Roman de Brut by Wace, which is in turn a version of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Latin Historia Regum Britanniae. Layamon’s poem, however, is longer than both and includes an enlarged section on the life and exploits of King Arthur. It is written in the alliterative verse style commonly used in Middle English poetry by rhyming chroniclers, the two halves of the alliterative lines being often linked by rhyme as well as by alliteration.
While this particular reference may not be what I am trying to convey I did find it interesting enough to include in this post. Take this excerpt for example:
Then answered Merlin to the king that spake with him: “King, thou art unwise and foolish in counsel; thou askest of the dragons that made the din, and what ‘betokened [betokeneth] their fight, and their fierce assaults? They betoken kings that [yet] are to come, ‘and their fight, and their adventure, and their fated folk!’ But if thou wert so wise a man, and so prudent in thought, that thou haddest inquired of me [as I weened that thou wert, then thou wouldest ask] of thy many sorrows, [great care, and] of thy great care [woe], that is to come to thee, I would say to thee of thy sorrow.”
In this context, the author uses the word care to convey what is felt (even in a hypothetical future tense) by the king. Merlin then expresses that had he consulted him, he could assist with these cares [woes]. I am including this example only to provide a context in the attempt of understanding how the word is used today. The act of empathy when witnessing another beings cares paves the way toward the beautiful traits of compassion and kindness.
Beyond my own etymological dictionary, I sent an email to the Library of Congress asking for more early literary examples of the word care.
They were kind enough to send the entry for the word from the definitive book when it comes to words — The Oxford English Dictionary.
There were many entries related to the word care from every angle you could possibly think of but here is the part of the entry that is pertinent to this post:
a. To have a regard, liking, or inclination for (a thing); to be inclined or disposed to, to think it worth while to do.
b. To have regard, fondness, or attachment for (a person).
The citations though plentiful were not anything related to what I am trying to convey so I left them out. Ever having the curious mind I did explore some of the citations given and through this process, I made a wonderful discovery. I had always known ‘of’ Albert Schweitzer which is to say I have heard the name but never really knew anything about him or his philosophies. I found so many wonderful quotes from Schweitzer and this truly does epitomize my idea of the word care and how it relates to all human beings.
Here are some of many of the famous words by Dr. Schweitzer:
The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.
The Schweitzer Album
Here, at whatever hour you come, you will find light and help and human kindness.
Inscribed on the lamp outside his jungle hospital at Lambarene.
The great fault of all ethics hitherto has been that they believed themselves to have to deal only with the relations of man to man. In reality, however, the question is what is his attitude to the world and all life that comes within his reach. A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, and that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help. Only the universal ethic of the feeling of responsibility in an ever-widening sphere for all that lives — only that ethic can be founded in thought. … The ethic of Reverence for Life, therefore, comprehends within itself everything that can be described as love, devotion, and sympathy whether in suffering, joy, or effort.
Out of My Life and Thought, An Autobiography (1933) translated by C. T. Campion, Ch. 13, p. 188
To learn more, please take a moment to visit your local library and check out a few books by Dr. Schweitzer.
I wish to thank you for taking the time to read this post. I tried to think of a way to summarize everything but I believe these words by Moby say it better than I ever could:
“So as a species we’re all just confused. And capable, of course, of great joy, but most of us live with I think a lot of confusion and fear. Ideally what that should create is a sense of solidarity. When human beings look at each other they should say, ‘we’re all in this together, we’re all experiencing the same things.’ That gives rise in my mind to a state of innocence.”
I wish to thank those representing the very talented photographer Gregory Colbert for allowing me to use the image ‘Girl with Elephant’ for this blog post. It is such an amazing photograph depicting the gentle kindness often found in children but can also be found in all of us. Please take a moment to view the ‘Ashes and Snow’ page here.
- Each with Their Own Secret Care
- Revere the Animal You Kill