All too often, the majority of us share a common mailing address. We find ourselves living on a street called “Apathy Avenue.” We do not relocate there by intent; rather, complacency acts as our real estate agent and denial is our mortgage banker of choice!
The traditional dictionary definition of apathy is quite straightforward; “Lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference.” The sub-definition of the word paints an even more vivid picture; “Lack of emotion or feeling; impassiveness.” In short, we numb ourselves to the situations, people, and events surrounding us. It is an affliction that is equal opportunity in selecting its victims and we are reaching epidemic proportions as this illness spreads globally.
Our daily lives are filled with a bombardment of negative messages. We hear of riots, famine, cruelty, and war. We watch television commercials that appeal for our help, yet we comfortably hit a button on the remote control and change channels. More and more of us retreat to the shelter of our online communities; where we are free to associate with only those that bring glad tidings and where we can portray ourselves as whomever we desire!
I considered establishing a telethon to address a cure for apathy. Unfortunately, the networks just did not seem to care about this malady. They were afraid that sponsors would not purchase commercial time over something that nobody cares about. It appears that there is an apathetic consensus about apathy!
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when confronted with life’s daily challenges. Most individuals are not happy in their careers, assuming they are working at all. Children and parents place demands on what little free time we have. We spend our every waking moment afraid that our paycheck-to-paycheck existence will put us out on the streets eventually. How could we possibly have the energy to even care about the injustices and pain outside of our own little personal spheres?
A wonderful thing happens when we reach out to other people. We quickly discover that we are not alone in our troubles. The mountains that we must climb, simply to exist, are also being faced by others. We are able to share our provisions and abilities with these fellow mountaineers, and suddenly the climb is a little easier! Once atop the mountain, we are clearly able to see those down in the valley, yearning to join us.
It is precisely at that point that we must each make a personal choice. Will we ignore those less fortunate people who are down below us, or will we offer to help them in their ascent? That is when the temptations of apathy are at their strongest. The easy way out is to simply look the other way; pretending that the situation does not exist. The higher path beckons you to reach out with a helping hand.
None of us can cure the ills of the world by ourselves. Yet collectively we are a formidable force. We cannot focus on every issue, but surely we can find just enough energy to take on one injustice. Take a close look at your life. Are you allowing yourself to be lulled to sleep in the cradle of apathy? Would your day be enriched by knowing that you were able to personally help one other human being? Would you find the fulfillment you so desperately seek by helping others to find their fulfillment?
Each of us must make a conscious choice in our daily battle with that formidable team known as indifference and impassiveness. As for me, I just put up a “for sale” sign on the townhouse I own on Apathy Avenue!