Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Caretaker or destroyer

Although I have long thought this, It's been a long time since I wrote about it.  I also have a way of categorizing people but it's not by ethnicity, gender, sex, IQ, education, color, or even politics (although that's becoming harder to say). I do it by whether they are caretakers or destroyers. 

I went looking for the original piece I had written about it for the blog and was surprised to find it back in 2006. Wow, I've been doing this blog a long while.

I have refined my thinking on it even though I don't think i wrote about it again. For one thing nobody has to stay one thing. They also don't have to be all of one thing. Maybe in one part of their life they are a caretaker type and in another it will be destroyer. It can get confusing when that person behaves a destroyer in their family but a pious caretaker in public. 

Also the word caretaker is often misused as if it's someone who nursemaids others. That is not how I see the word. To me a caretaker is the one who does the work that leads to it being sustained and healthy, growing. It would mean the same thing where it came to people or the earth. Caretakers don't just give the mushy words and then take whatever suits them. Caretakers understand that there is more than today and they not only live that way but they try to help others also live that way.

Where it comes to recognizing where someone else fits (or even yourself) you cannot go by what is said but more by actions. The politician who claims he's a family man but is on his fourth marriage, most likely he's not.

Assessing where someone is shows up easiest if they raise livestock. Do those people have fields that look healthy? Grass has to be nurtured along with the cattle and sheep. Do their fences make for them being responsible neighbors? If their animals don't look healthy, if they are skinny and malnourished, they can say all the pious words in church or the political arena but they aren't caretakers. The evidence gives them away.

In the world most Americans live in today, they don't see those kind of obvious clues to what that person is. Their children might be well-dressed but at home they are emotionally brow-beaten, never good enough. It's harder for us to figure it out because often destroyers look like fine folks who speak with noble sounding words. Their true character shows up in their business investments, whether they pay their bills on time, how they treat the lowliest of creatures (and that includes humans) around them, and who they support for leaders.

We could argue up one side and down the other about what political party is caretaker and which is destroyer. We could all point to those areas where one party or the other has shown destroyer tendencies but it's harder to evaluate because life today is complex and consequences not always showing up right away. 

A good example is the use of drones that is now being heavily debated as it should be. For a long time Democrats have expressed concern over the use of drones; while generally Republicans have supported it other than those who want to see Obama as a destroyer and then they will see them as bad right up until they get another like McCain or Romney in office.

It's easy to see the concern of drones. Some see them as the ability to wage war without consequences to our own lives. If we know our men and women are at risk, might we use war less cavalierly?  Well we haven't. War has been treated as a commodity especially when we reached a point where there weren't jobs for young people in this country and we had an all volunteer army just waiting for the young to enlist and be sent overseas to whatever benefited our interests... or in destroyer lingo-- kept us safe. I think we have treated war not much different than use of drones.

So is using a drone a destroyer who recklessly disregards life, or a caretaker who sees it as a pinpoint way to take out someone threatening to our nation with less loss of any other lives? Deciding that is the complexity of modern life in America.

Whether it's appropriate to use the word war today might help. If we are in war, then the rules are different but we have used that word pretty carelessly. War on poverty, war on drugs and now war on terror. None of these wars are as convenient as war on a country used to be. If you take the word war out of the equation, then it's easier to say drones are not okay. If it's in the equation, then I think it gets difficult to assess.

Having seen drones flying when I was on the road one time to Arizona, they really are kind of scary. Like big hornets that can be nearly invisible in the sun until suddenly there they are. We were only watching them be 'exercised' but if we lived where they were carrying missiles, seeing them would be terrifying for bad or good guys-- and those standing too close.

I think asking if we ourselves are caretakers or destroyers is probably where the designation helps the most. Do we look to the long range for our choices? Do we help others but in ways that will help them be sustaining, not dependent on us? Do we nurture our own lives with activities of value and that doesn't mean always of a weighty, sober nature but also fun, exercise, building that inner serotonin that makes us more able to not only nurture life in real ways but have the wisdom to see what really will help.

The problem I think we face in our lives is that what can appear to be caretaking can actually be damaging and what can appear to be destroying might actually be nurturing. It's not simple but it is the way life can be lived and when we see we goofed, went a wrong way, we turn it around. That's the lovely part of being human-- we don't just operate by instincts and we can evaluate and re-evaluate.

I am not someone who spends a lot of time staring at my navel contemplating life (as the joke goes) but I have done it, worked out my own creed, my value set even when it might not suit someone else, and I do try to always live by it. Only now and then do I re-evaluate whether it's still working. Someone who can never re-evaluate is likely neither caretaker nor destroyer-- they are just part of the scenery ;)

The first salamanders date back 164 million years give or take a few million. We see this variety on our gravel road and usually will encourage them to leave the road which means pick them up with a stick or leaves and give them a toss because their defense mechanism is to pretend they are dead-- the reason for care in handling them is their other defense mechanism is a toxic fluid which they can exude.  Playing dead might work well with predators but autos-- not so much.  We usually take them off just because we hate to later see their squished bodies, but when I read they have declining populations, I don't feel it's so pointless to do. They are predators, and he's the first we have seen this year. Maybe spring is approaching faster than it seems.


Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Rain's post reveals that closely related to her caretaker/destroyer classification of people is the propaganda of destroyers to cloth themselves as caretakers. Great post!

Dick said...

I think there is some risk of a caretaker going too far to protect and ending up destroying the initiative of the person they are trying to help. This I think is the big risk of too much welfare or it running too long. It is especially bad when it gets to the point where the benefit exceeds what an uneducated or poorly educated worker can hope to earn on his/her own with a job- no incentive to go to work.

My brother retired from the welfare department and told me years ago that our present system was setup based on a system setup in the South to help seasonal farm workers during the time of the year when there was little or no farm work. The program had no built in incentives to find work as those it benefited had jobs, they just had to wait for the growing season to return. It actually sounds more like a modern unemployment benefit but without the back to work incentives one finds in most of those programs.

I realize this is a small part of what Rain is referring to in this post but it is a big issue on the political scene in our country.

Rain Trueax said...

I agree, Dick. That's why the word caretaking has to be thought about in terms of what really helps. If it keeps someone dependent or as I happen to know with some friends, where it came to unemployment recently, not caring to find work until it ran out, real care taking is the ticket.

Taradharma said...

I've been pondering the use of drones a lot lately as well. I started a post about it, but realized I was completely out of my depth. War is ugly, no matter by drone, guns, tanks, bombs. All kill people without benefit of jury or judge. If the use of drones can target 'the bad guys' and do it with little or no collateral damage, great. But from what I've read there is an enormous number of innocents who die from drone attacks. Similarly, innocents die from attacks by other war weaponry as well. A difficult subject, for sure.

Ashleigh Burroughs said...

Drones save our soldiers - I have a hard time getting past that. We do treat war so cavalierly; I am not sure drones will keep the boys from insisting that we need to go over there and do something... where ever "there" happens to be. Like Taradharma, I started a post but couldn't go anywhere with it.

Caretaking... nurturing... moving beasties off the road... you have a good soul, a reflective character, and always give me something to think about.

We saw a Stealth Bomber years ago at the Chicago Air and Water Show. One minute the sky was clear, the next it was filled with the scariest flying thing ever. VERY glad they are on our side :)

Hattie said...

Not really to the point, but I was reminded of Emerson's poem, Brahma.

Rain Trueax said...

So true, Ashleigh and Tara.

And that is a good poem, Hattie. It fits well with my topic for tomorrow on dichotomy.