What is the embodiment of a caring nature? This question reverberates, again and again. Can one be taught to care? If the answer is no, then why waste our energy? Why make the effort? History has shown us repeated examples of the sowing and reaping of ethical values. Put quite simply, if a child is taught anger and hatred then that will be how they engage the face of another; if they learn selfishness and self-preservation at the cost of another’s well-being, then they will know this equation to be the surest calculation of survival; and if a child comes to know otherness and fear as the currency of human exchange, then they will certainly meet with their own spiritual deficits of inflation and devaluation throughout their lives.

Caring may not always be the predominant behavior observed in the current political climate or amid the overwhelming international crises of poverty, injustice, and violence – but I still believe it is at the core of the human spirit, awaiting to be revealed when the blankets of ego and delusion no longer provide a comfortable place to seek refuge. Uncaring behavior is a symptom of not knowing: not knowing how to receive the lifeworld of another. Many of us were not equipped to bear witness to the amount of pain that exists; we are imperfect and must continually practice the skills that will give us the character and equanimity not only to withstand the suffering of the planet, but also to make it a more hopeful place. We must learn to return to that core aspect of our being, awaiting to be found, yearning to be seen and heard inside ourselves; we must learn – everyday – how to care – unselfishly, without reservation, in spite of the anger and hatred and judgment we have learned over time.

Caring is a call to action – a rallying cry – a challenge that dares human beings to overcome the easier, more socially acceptable habits of labeling, othering, judging, decrying, and blaming. It is not a path for the weak but a life choice for the brave—for those that choose to make the world a better place and confront the unknowing bullies of the planetary village. Caring does not exist in language or books; it is only alive in action and the tangibles of the lived experience; it is known through the heroic acts of empathy, forgiveness, presence, vulnerability, gentleness; caring charges us with accountability. This level of accountability can be intimidating and, at times, unclear. As healers committed to caring and creating healing environments at all levels, we are accountable for the behaviors we demonstrate, the reactions that overtake us, the responses we cultivate, the words used, and the way we show up. We are accountable for taking a caring stance of power in the world—one that promotes goodness and compassion, acknowledges mental and emotional limitations of self and other, and works, without judgment, in partnership with all human beings toward a more accepting and open society. We are accountable for how available we choose to be on a momentary basis to the inherent humanness of another.

This is why caring is a practice – a science – of highest order. Much like the great sages of past times and the yogis of the Himalayas demonstrated: Spirit work requires commitment and integrity. It is not for the faint hearted. Confronting one’s shadows in meditation can be illuminating and terrifying simultaneously; however, being in meditation with a daily practice of caring brings the spiritual practice to life. Caring becomes the enactment of all we hold dear. In the quiet moments, it continues to be one of the few offerings that is left to soften the space between humans.

About The Author

William Rosa, MS, RN, LMT, AHN-BC, AGPCNP-BC, CCRN-CMC, is a nurse, author, and educator. He graduated with his bachelor of science degree in nursing, magna cum laude, from New York University (NYU) Rory Meyers College of Nursing in 2009. While working as a critical care bedside clinician for 4 years at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC), climbing to the top rung of the clinical ladder, he became committed to excellence in patient care delivery, advocacy for positive change within the profession, and the elevation of consciousness for nurses and nursing. After graduating as valedictorian of his master of nursing program at the Hunter–Bellevue School of Nursing at Hunter College, New York, New York, in 2014, he moved into the role of nurse educator for critical care services at NYULMC.

He is a graduate of the Caritas Coach Education Program (CCEP) offered by the Watson Caring Science Institute (WCSI), the Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program (INCCP) offered by the International Nurse Coach Association, and the Clinical Scene Investigator (CSI) Academy of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). To date, these experiences have inspired over 150 publications in peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, newspapers, magazines, and international social media platforms such as SpringBoard and The Huffington Post. Mr. Rosa’s first book, Nurses as Leaders: Evolutionary Visions of Leadership, was released by Springer in 2016.