“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
– Albert Einstein
Apathy is as fascinating as it is terrible. It’s also a difficult concept to assign statistics to. Like love or hate, there are many levels of apathy; another similarity is that apathy is not all-encompassing. As you can love one thing while hating another, it’s just as possible to be passionate a particular topic and apathetic about something else. Sometimes, perhaps, apathy is even necessary to keep us from over-burdening ourselves with worry and frustration. With that said, apathy can also be very dangerous and destructive. It is a literal statement that many lives have been lost to apathy. So, if you’ll allow me, let’s take a moment to ponder…
Apathy is the state of non-doing and non-caring. An apathetic person is one that cannot be roused on a given subject no matter the prodding. As I’ve mentioned, this can be trivial. It may not really matter who wins the Super Bowl, and your life truly may not be affected by the results of a foreign election. It’s my opinion, however, that many people in our world today are apathetic about things that do matter.
There seems to be social incentive for us to turn a deaf ear to the issues affecting society and the world as a whole. Choose any controversial subject and you’ll find many people who live their lives in a fever-pitch over the next decision to be made on abortion, euthanasia, marriage rights, climate change, or religion (and so many more). Despite this, you’ll find perhaps a greater number of people that can’t be bothered to care no matter whether it affects them directly or not.
Likewise, it’s common to be apathetic in our own lives. The truth is that every day we all make decisions that have impact. Some of these we have the ability to be aware of and others we might never guess. For example, that person you smile warmly towards while dropping off your child at school may also be the manager of the business you’ve just applied to work for – but you’ll never know it until it’s important. And what if you frowned to them instead? You’d know, however, that the decision to stop at a crosswalk or to hold your tongue instead of fighting may be significant.
I have to wonder whether apathy grows up or down? Perhaps it is the feeling of insignificance in the greater issues of life that cause a person to feel powerless in their own matters? Conversely, perhaps it is an apathetic state regarding personal choices and events that matures into a greater disregard for events of the world around us?
I cannot say how apathy grows, but the wisdom here is knowing that grow it does. In fact, apathy is almost a social contagion. If you work with others, then imagine your work place as an example. If your work partner stops caring, you’ll feel the effects. If your supervisor stops caring, your whole team will notice the changes. If the company ownership simply gives up and disconnects? Well, certainly it will hit home when the paychecks stop coming.
My message, then, is vigilance. Be aware of yourself as you are the only thing that you can change. If the world falls around you, never stop caring. Caring is our only hope.
Thank you for your time.