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the nature of apathy

By       Message David Teachout       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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The nature of apathy is such that everybody believes they understand it, but few grasp the many forms it takes. Initially, the reaction is physical, as if it was some kind of cold and instead of pills, action is what is needed to alleviate the symptom. Get the person interested in something and the apathy goes away, engagement of the body is seen as the remedy. I put forth the idea here that apathy is not physiological, at least not in the conventional sense, and action is not its cure but rather can actually further it along. Action can often blind the person to the reality in which they find themselves, mistaking physical connection for awareness; for it is the absence of awareness that apathy is truly about, the ceasing of a conscious engagement with the world in which one finds him/her self.

The first myth to be abolished here is that activity equals engagement, as if the quantity of frenzied movement signifies some kind of connection between the individual and the community. This thinking simply has to be done away with. If activity equaled awareness, then young daughters who are taken to every imaginable camp and sport event by their mini-van driving mothers would feel a connection and yet it is usually those mother-daughter relationships in which a quiet talk in the evening generates the closest of feelings. If activity equaled awareness, then the poker or game nights for men would engender knowledge of the personal lives of the participants, when in fact many dont even know where the others work. If activity equaled awareness, then those at political rallies, screaming and gallivanting like it was a concert (which considering recent rallies, the similarities arent all that different), would have an appreciation and knowledge of the topics and questions being discussed by those they support, but in fact few can articulate a single point beyond the casual puerile talking points given to children posing as reporters. If activity equaled awareness, the gyrating forms at church so distraught with their sin their bodies become like marionette dolls controlled by a drunk would be able to present their religious position with the knowledge of a scholar, but in fact few have opened a Bible or know even the rudiments of their movements history.

I hazard the opinion here that without deliberation, without consciously placing the metaphorical self into the stream of lifes events and trying to see the relation that an action has to another, then action is simply a haphazard attempt to fill a biological need, a gut reaction without meaning. This position entails that all the baseball catching between father and son, all the phone calls one makes for a political party, the house parties one throws for church groups and even the amount of sex one has with wife or significant other, is all for naught if the action is not seen in context of the people involved.

It is apathy of the mind that I have in mind here, the apathy that makes critical thought wrong, that makes education about a career instead of understanding the world, that makes us look the other way when we pass the bum on the street or ignore the melting icecaps and the rising ocean temperatures. It is apathy of the mind that mistakes closure for vengeance and supports the continued cycle of death in capital punishment and invading sovereign countries without facts. It is apathy of the mind which results in the continued division of humanity by refusing to give up on ancient religions.

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Im sure there are some who would read this and mutter inane profanities and judge me as some kind of liberal nut who believes in nothing. To that, I would reply that the surest sign of apathy of the mind is in the ease with which one classifies those one meets, whether personally or in writing. While categories are useful, they are also limiting and it is precisely limitation that apathy of the mind refuses to acknowledge. When thought is constrained by authority and questions are discouraged by deity, whether in the shape of a spirit or money or prestige, then the world loses its boundaries and anything becomes possible. The reality is that not everything is possible. We cannot fly without airplanes, we cannot believe in a chosen people of god and stop killing each-other at the same time, we cannot cure disease without research, we cannot continue to destroy the planet and think it will last forever, and we cannot ignore poverty and think crime will disappear.

Some may think Im a defeatist or simply cynical. Quite honestly, Id rather know the limits of our existence than run up against them by mistake and cause unnecessary harm because of a child-like belief that one can do anything.

 

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Graduated from a Bible college, majoring in theology and psychology. Currently working on Ed.D. in counseling psychology.

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