The Power of Nurture

How can we create a peaceful society? How can we create a world in which humans live harmoniously with nature? How can we live abundant, joyful lives?

The key to these deep and lasting transformations is in weaving web of peaceful and harmonious relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, with the earth. This web of relationships must be made completely anew, created in a mode that is foreign to Western society, whose history has been created through modes of relation defined by domination, oppression, opposition, extraction, competition, and neglect.

These ways of relating that have dominated Western thought, and their instantiations in our colonial and post colonial societies, create psyches, patterns, and cycles of violence. Why? Because relationships built through oppression, extraction, domination and neglect are permeated to their core by lack, tension, animosity, and fear. When we stay in these modes of relation, we continue to perpetuate these psyches and cycles of violence, within ourselves, our families and our societies.

The path to a world of peace and harmony, therefore, is a completely distinct way of inhabiting and relating, a mode that creates that lines of possibility for relationships built on mutual care, benefit and trust.

This mode is NURTURE.

What is NURTURE?

Nurture means, simply, to give to a being what it needs to thrive.

Nurture is intimately related to nutrition, the receiving and processing of the nutrients needed to live and grow and be and do. Nurture means to feed on all levels, the soul, the mind, the heart, the body. Soil, ideas, emotions, tissues… all these need to be nurtured, given what they need to be fully themselves at their best. Nurture is love made practical, turned into an abundant source of all that the beloved needs to grow and thrive.

Nurture makes life possible, from the the continuation of physical existence to the growth of healthy minds, bodies and emotions. Every single life requires constant nurture, far more than we are equipped to realize. Western society has a huge blind spot concerning nurture. Western thought and colonial/postcolonial culture promote the misconception that nurture is unimportant. We focus on achievement, on expectations, on performance, on output. We pay little to no attention to the small and infinite acts of care and provision that set the ground for and ultimately make possible all action, success, enjoyment, and survival. When we do direct our attention toward nurture, for example, the care of children or other people in states of vulnerability, we frame it as “work” and construe it as exhausting and depleting. Nurture (care) work, such as that of young children or elderly persons, tens to be the lowest paid and the least trained of any profession. This work is regarded with disdain or simply overlooked by most members of our society.

It is no coincidence that our society neglects nurture. The modes of relation of the Western/modern/colonial project are built on the exclusion and suppression of nurture. Nurture is the opposite of competition, of trying to measure up, of leaving to your own devices. It is the opposite of dominion, oppression, of violence, of fear, of lack, of neglect. Nurture is the excluded other of Western society. Coloniality cannot tolerate nurture.

To remedy the violence and ills that run as deep and as far back as the beginnings of the Colonial project, we need precisely the mode of relating that Coloniality excludes. We need a society built from the ground up on nurture. In nurture, everyone benefits together. In nurture, we all have what we need. In nurture, we unfold trustingly knowing that our best and the best of the other are a harmonious whole. In nurture, we can all be well. Nurture is a mode in which all can be well in harmony together. When we see this, we enable it. We live it.

Trying to overcome the effects of Colonial modes of relating from within the same modes of relating is a recipe for frustration and failure. Another mode is available to us, and has been there the whole time, waiting for us to inhabit it. It is time to turn our attention away from the colonial modes that have done us so much damage and turn our efforts toward building relationships of nurture.

There is no life without nurture. There is no joy without nurture. There is no true success without nurture. There is no love without nurture. There is no peace without nurture. Nurture enables and feeds life and all things good, on every level, from the smallest to the greatest. Indeed, the POWER OF NURTURE to deeply and permanently transform our ways of being in the world and our ways of relating is limitless.

It is time we shift into this miraculous and life-affirming, life enabling mode. It is time to orient our efforts toward making a world where we honor nurture, make time and space for nurture, enjoy nurture, make nurture primary. While this is a fundamental and world transforming shift, it comes in small and ordinary packages. It is simple, ordinary, and accessible. This is a fundamental part of the shift – to an affirmation of the importance of the small and the ordinary. The vast, immense majority of nurturing acts and practices are simple and accessible. The beautiful thing about nurture is that it is is literally everywhere. Even in a society that overlooks and scorns it, we still need, give, and receive nurture. Once you begin to pay attention to it you see that nurture is everywhere, and opportunities to give and receive nurture are absolutely abundant in all our lives.

Rebuilding our society in the mode of nurture happens in the small spaces of everyday interactions. You can start with yourself, opening to the nurture within you and around you. You can start with your loved ones, with the small and large living beings around you, from the tiniest seed or baby to the largest tree and the oldest person you can find. Acts of nurture are generally small and “ordinary”, which means that they are accessible to all of us. We feel a ray of sun on our faces, breathe a breath of fresh air from the breeze. Notice the trill of a bird or the soaring of a butterfly on its delicate wings. Prepare a meal simply and with love. Give a hug. Listen with our full attention. Close our eyes to rest. Smile. Offer a glass of clean water.

All living things need nurture and all of life is an open invitation to give and receive nurture. As we turn more and more to nurture as a mode of relating, we find that our ability to give and receive nurture increases. We gain practice and skill in nurturing. We find that we begin to relax, to enjoy, to thrive. Those around us also thrive and we live in peace together. This is the reign of nurture, one we can build together one nurturing act and practice at a time.

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