Apathy and evil. The two work hand in hand. They are the same, really. Evil wills it. Apathy allows it. Evil hates the innocent and the defenseless most of all. Apathy doesn't care as long as it's not personally inconvenienced. ~ Jake Thoene
I have a vacation day, and must get cracking on my housework, and I have a few updates on things out on the streets this morning, including the boy that was shot, and the homeless man Will whom I met this morning and had a lovely conversation with. Very very nice, smart man. Funny how people come into your life like that and can touch your heart. But in the meantime, I was thinking about the word APATHY that I used in a previous post, and wanted to explore that.
If we define "apathy" for ourselves, I think that we would come up with many different definitions. The main gist of the word seems to be a state of not caring, of not finding enthusiasm or hope or excitement about anything in our minds or in our hearts or in our spirits. The apathetic person simply seems not to care about anything, and seems to be fine letting life go by without making any of his or her own contributions to it. I can name a few folks in my life - and I don't mean this as a put down, but it seems like they've lost their will to hope. Or they are just plain and pure selfish.
But if I'm apathetic, then I'm not creating conditions in which I learn. After all, our most effective and most important learning comes when we've taken actions and we learn from the results of those actions, be the results positive or negative, what we hoped for or what we hoped to avoid. A lack of action keeps us from learning very important lessons.
Apathy also keeps us from forming friends and feeling connections to our fellow human beings. Apathy tends to be a lonely state, one that keeps us from doing what we can to help others, and that keeps us from asking others for help.
Most unfortunately, our apathy keeps us from making a positive mark or three on the world in our own unique ways. If I don't care about things, I'm not going to volunteer my time to help other people. If I don't care, I'm not going to challenge myself to make things better, i.e. feeding, sheltering, neutering cats. If I'm apathetic, it's very easy to simply sit on the couch and passively experience the entertainment that's been created by people who have taken action and who have pursued their dreams.
And while it's tempting to look at apathy as simply a personal problem, the fact is that it's a societal problem that's incredibly dangerous. Apathy is one of those traits that can damage people and systems like almost nothing else can, simply through the inaction of apathetic people in times when action is called for. And unfortunately, we seem to be teaching our young people to be less and less concerned with societal issues and more and more concerned about personal issues and personal gratification. For instance the little boy that was out at midnight getting shot and killed. Where were his parents? Why wasn't he home?
Apathy is a quality that makes people very frustrated--have you ever tried to drum up interest among a group of people who just don't care? The Grand Avenue people are who immediately come to my mind here. And when apathetic people get together, they tend to feed off each other, supporting each other's ideas that what they do doesn't matter. For people who are trying to be active and get important things done, apathy can be an obstacle greater than laws, an often-insurmountable mountain over which they're unable to move.
The apathetic people whom I've known have convinced themselves that what they do doesn't matter. They've talked themselves into believing that other people don't care about them or what they do. They're fully convinced that even if they do act, their actions will have no effect on others or on the world. Perhaps the best way to approach apathy is by trying to convince the apathetic person that their actions do matter, maybe by taking every opportunity we can to thank them for something that they've done, telling them that it has had a positive effect on us.
Perhaps the best way for us to deal with apathy is through caring enough to convince the apathetic people that they're wrong when they think that what they do just doesn't matter.
Have a great, hopeful, and positive weekend!