Apathy is a lack of interest or concern for others. The ugly cousin of narcissism, apathy shows itself as disregard for others and society, emotions, spirituality, philosophy, or the physical life around us. When we think about its roots, its easy to see that apathy comes from a place of fear. Born of distrust and disconnection, apathy is apparent in the attitudes, opinions, actions, cultures, and beliefs of individuals, communities, nations, and cultures.
I’m most concerned about apathy because I’ve learned that apathetic people cannot be authentically engaged in the world around themselves, or the world within themselves. Their well-being is not sustainable because they are only self-serving. This is true of children, youth, adults, and older people. We must, must, must have mutual regard for each other. Without that, society is merely a pile of opportunists looking to profit from others’ well-being.
Apathy reveals a lack of motivation or desire to relate to others or one’s self. Because of this, people who are apathetic may not connect with the issues that effect them most, like their health, relationships, or their livelihood.
Leo F. Buscaglia once wrote that, “…the opposite of love is not hate- it’s apathy. It’s not giving a damn. If somebody hates me, they must ‘feel’ something… or they couldn’t possibly hate. Therefore, there’s some way in which I can get to them.” That is why I relish upsetting people in my presentations, because when they get upset you know they care. I believe that we need to be pushed off our rockers sometimes, forced into falling to our knees, catching ourselves, or jumping to our feet. This is the nature of my work over the last 20 years, forcing people to get up off their asses and into the streets.
We have to get off our asses and do something, whether in our own lives or in the lives of others. Ironically, that getting up might involve sitting down, meditating, or even praying. It may involve picketing or protesting. It might even mean meeting new people and doing strange things. Any way it goes, doing something entails taking responsibility and living beyond apathy, towards life, love, and ability for all people, everywhere.