Apathy!

APATHY!

“The opposite of love is not hate, its indifference.”
These are the words of Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Prize winner and a survivor of the Holocaust. Indifference is defined as lack of interest, concern, or sympathy. And apathy is defined as lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. I sometimes despair that there is enough concern or sympathy for our fellow human beings among the people of the so-called “developed” nations, for humanity to continue? This despair rocks me to the bottom of my soul. I sit alone with my thoughts and find it harder and harder to connect with people. I believe that part of the reason why I drink to excess is to temporarily escape these dark thoughts.

Moreover, some time back, I took a popular personality assessment/test called the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. My classification was something like INFJ, and supposedly, less than 1% of the population make up this classification? It basically said that I’m an intuitive, sensitive, feeling type of person. I have some ideas/theories as to why I am this kind of person and it makes sense sort of but what I can’t understand is why so many of us are so indifferent or apathetic towards the gross injustices and suffering of the vast majority of humanity? I sometimes fear that I’m going over the edge because I get so emotionally choked-up so frequently. I believe another reason why I drink too much is to numb these emotions. It’s hard for me to relate or relax around most people I meet unless I have several drinks in me. Why? Because everywhere I go and even amongst many “friends” and “family members,” racism, intolerance, hatred, prejudice, apathy, etc. is growing and goes unquestioned. People have been mocking my concerns since I first began to express them in my twenties. Please don’t misunderstand me; this isn’t about self-pity but rather, a sincere attempt to understand this phenomenon.

To continue with Mr. Wiesel’s quote that I started this essay with, “The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” Why or how have we come to such a sad state of being? That’s what I am trying to explore in this essay. And to perhaps shed a little light on this modern malaise of apathy, I believe a brief overview of existentialism will be insightful. Scholars disagree as to the originators of this recent branch of philosophy but for the sake of brevity, I accept that Soren Kierkegaard & Friedrich Nietzsche, were the “foreshadowers” of existentialism. The concept of existentialism mostly grew out of the sense of death, dread, & despair which permeated Europe as a result of two world wars. These two, world-shattering events totally disillusioned the artists and intellectuals of their time and resulted in a crisis of faith in God & human reasoning. Writers, thinkers, scholars, etc. did a lot of deep, soul-searching in their attempt to explain man’s inhumanity or callous disregard for their fellow man. In their long struggle to find meaning or to understand how man could kill seemingly indifferently, tens of thousands, if not millions, of his fellow man, the concept of existentialism gradually developed. And at the risk of being overly simplistic, but for the sake of brevity, existentialists such as Heidegger, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Camus, Dostoyevsky, & Kafka, to name but a few, basically argued that we must look within ourselves for meaning, for answers, for guides or values to live by. We cannot look to governments, religions, scholars, etc. for how to live our lives or to find the reasons/purpose of our lives.

Tragically though, the majority of people are not intellectuals, and I say this not because I’m an intellectual snob but because I hope and pray that if enough of us develop our critical & analytical thinking skills high enough, we may be able to stem this tide of corruption, greed, indifference, & murder that threatens our very existence. By the way, even this hope is very feeble because many intellectuals, liberals included, have and continue to sell out to the powers that be for their own material wealth & gain. The fascists took hold in Germany when it was at the height of its cultural, artistic, & intellectual glory so we must forever be on guard against intellectualism without ethical concerns. Furthermore, intellectuals have always comprised only a small minority of whatever societies they are members of. This is why education is of such vital importance. Until we raise the intellectual standards of the overwhelming majority of every society, we will continue to creep towards global genocide. Or, as H.G. Wells warned, “It’s becoming more and more of a race between education and catastrophe.”

To put it another way, some of the key obstacles & distractions that each of us must wrestle with if we want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem are despair, angst (a feeling of deep anxiety or dread), absurdity (the quality or state of being ridiculous or wildly unreasonable), alienation (a state of depersonalization or loss of identity in which the self seems unreal, thought to be caused by difficulties in relating to society and the resulting prolonged inhibition of emotion), and boredom. On the subject of “boredom,” I used to be a substitute teacher at the secondary level in L.A. and I got so sick & tired of hearing students complain that they were bored, that it really annoyed me. But one day I was subbing for a teacher who had this quote on a wall in her classroom “The cure for boredom is curiosity and there is no cure for curiosity.” This struck me as a beautiful insight because it puts the responsibility for our boredom back where it belongs i.e. us. And just as the existentialists argued, we are responsible for giving our lives meaning. Therefore, when people say they are bored, their boredom is the result of their intellectual laziness or lack of imagination. Think about it, there’s a world of new tastes, sounds, sights, ideas, etc. just waiting for each of us to discover and experience. Furthermore, I believe most people in the so-called “advanced” societies, are bored because their imaginations & their intellects have atrophied due to the constant bombardment of their senses with stupid television ads and programs, video games, computers, corporate news, & a dismal public education system. In brief, their intellectual diet is overwhelmingly empty, superficial, and full of glitz and glamour but no substance. If you want to stimulate to your intellectual palate, take a big bite of philosophy. It will taste bitter at first and be hard to digest but if you persevere, you will never be intellectually hungry again.

However, I caution you to not take the plunge into the ocean of knowledge and wisdom before deep reflection. And I’m not being flippant. I have paid a high price for my understanding & the insights I have gained over the years e.g. people claim that my conversation is the most stimulating conversation they’ve had in years but must feel inferior or something afterwards because I have to go begging for friendship or companionship i.e. “friends” rarely, if ever, pick up the phone to see how I’m doing, let alone invite me over, etc. It’s been my experience that a lot of people claim to respect and value knowledge but they are merely empty words. I think Bertrand Russell (another Nobel Prize winner) hit it on the head when he said, “Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth—more than ruin—more even than death….Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.”

Pursuing this further, if we are to survive, it’s of paramount importance that we reflect on how the Nazis and fascists gained their power and as distasteful as it may be, note the parallels that are happening as we speak, here in America and the rest of the so-called “first world” nations. To begin, most of us know that the Nazis murdered over six million Jews, but something like a third of the American population, believe this fact is a propaganda ploy on the part of the Jews to take over America. This is truly frightening to me because if so many Americans can & have been duped by the neo-Nazis & other white supremacist groups, we are truly in danger of committing another Holocaust on perhaps even a grander scale? And this goes to show the level of ignorance as well as the power of the demagogues amongst us. Moreover, I’m just focusing on the Nazis but don’t forget the “Cultural Revolution” under Chairman Mao, the Killing Fields in Cambodia, the Death Squads of Central America, apartheid practices in South Africa, the Spanish Inquisition, the American genocide of the Native Americans, the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, etc.

How is it possible for such unspeakable acts of terrorism, bestiality, & inhumanity to occur? It all starts with deliberate propaganda campaigns designed to dehumanize the targets of those in power. The average citizen may mock & even physically threaten or intimidate people who dissent or disagree with the party line they’ve been indoctrinated with their whole lives, but those who wield the true power in a nation, know just how powerful & disruptive dissenters can be and they will stop at nothing to silence their critics.

And to continue with this line of reasoning, as I was saying, most of us know of the six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis, but there were another eleven million people killed by these subhuman vermin. They also persecuted and often killed millions of other groups they considered inferior, undesirable or dangerous. Two million Poles were killed. Russians, gypsies from Romania, Africans, Asians, the mentally ill, homosexuals, political opponents, religious dissidents, Leftists, communists, socialists, anarchists, labor union organizers & members, freemasons, Catholics, dissenting German Protestants, social deviants, prostitutes, vagrants, alcoholics, drug addicts, pacifists, draft resisters, common criminals, feminists, writers, scholars, journalists, artists, musicians, actors, teachers, professors, librarians, museum directors, etc. etc. etc.

Compare this list of targets of those persecuted and murdered by the Nazis with the victims demonized by the fear & hate mongers of the American Right wing extremists on the radio, television, & the Internet i.e. Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reily, and the newest golden boy, Glen Beck. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the good Christians such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Swaggart, Jim & Tammy Faye Baker, etc. Why do these cowards, bullies, & vile beings make tens of millions of dollars to spew forth their venom? And don’t tell me it’s because of their ratings & because most Americans recognize the truth of what they’re saying. No, they make these obscene amounts of money because of their rhetorical skills and mostly because they serve the interests of the status quo who want to keep us divided, distracted, and blaming one another while they rob us blind. Too far out there you say? Another conspiracy nut? No my friend. It’s as old as history itself i.e. divide and conquer or as the Romans devised, bread & circuses. Throw the peasants a few crumbs every now and then and keep them distracted with spectacles of violence and “sport,” and the people will continue to sleep while the power elite drive the country to total bankruptcy & collapse.

More specifically, the corporate media hate mongers take their cues from grandpa Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, who said “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes truth.” As well as “The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.” Undeniably, the “Fox News Network,” is the primary tool & weapon of the American fascist network. They exist only to serve their corporate masters. To illustrate, it was Fox News who spread the lie that Bush was the winner of the presidential race in Florida and the other corporate media lap dogs fell right in line and didn’t question the validity of their claim. It was Fox News who beat the drums the loudest for the march to war in Iraq & with the blind faith of the New York Times, enabled the Bush/Cheney cabal to enmesh us in a clearly immoral & illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Fox News is about as honest, factual, or objective as Pravda was to the Russian empire back in the day.

Even though you, my imaginary reader, most likely will dismiss many, if not most, of my accusations/observations, I challenge you to explain the gross indifference or apathy regarding such mundane things as the $9 billion dollars the Pentagon can’t account for in the Iraq reconstruction funds (don’t forget Cheney’s company, Halliburton, which he has over 400,000 shares in and continues to make a nice profit from & which got the lion’s share of the reconstruction contracts; and the House of Representatives vote last week to approve another $37 billion in funding for the “wars” in Iraq & Afghanistan, even though there is almost unanimous agreement that both wars are an exercise in futility by objective scholars i.e. those not on the government or media payrolls (the vote was 308 to 114); BP seeks $10 billion in tax credit to cover spill expenses & the C.E.O. is rewarded for leaving with a golden parachute of millions; the vengeance with which they go after “whistleblowers” but letting the criminals go unpunished & the corrupt practices continue unabated; the bail-out of Wall St. over the wishes of the American public & putting in charge of the fed, the treasury, the economy, the very same crooks who allowed/caused the global economic meltdown; the allowing of Bush who wrecked our economy & lied us into war & shredded our Bill of Rights, to retire wealthy and not prosecuted for his crimes; the loss of millions of Americans’ jobs, pensions, health insurance, etc.???

This is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on for hundreds of pages listing the crimes of the power elite but this will suffice for now to illustrate my point. Is this conspiratorial ranting & raving? All you have to do is check the headlines of the past week’s news, yes, even the mainstream news whores, it’s as obvious as the nose on your face. I will begin to wind-down now with a few quotes of warning and one of hope, or cautious optimism.

“Indifference is the sign of sickness, a sickness of the soul more contagious than any other.” (Elie Wiesel)

“The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men.” (Plato)

“There is divine beauty in learning…To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers & sons, mothers & daughters, teachers & disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests. And so are you.” (Elie Wiesel)

—Rob DeLoss, Aurora, OR, July 31, 2010

P.S. The republican reptilian robber barons pretend to be worried about the national deficit & say that’s why they must slash every “social welfare” or “entitlement” program for the working class. But they have no problem with throwing away trillions on futile & immoral wars which are killing our soldiers and creating a generation of new terrorists. They don’t care if we all lose our jobs, our homes, our dignity because they are rewarded with tax breaks for shipping our jobs overseas where the truly suffering people will work for less than $2 a day. If we don’t collectively wake-up from our apathetic, sleep-walking state, we are in for a truly horrific future. The natural resources necessary to sustain life are rapidly disappearing & the rapacious bastards are polluting the planet to such an extent that it might become inhabitable. Keep some of these inconvenient facts in mind as you watch your asinine movies, sit-coms, reality shows, soap operas, sports, play your video games, and chat on your phones. It’s time to wake up America because we are the biggest & most powerful bully on the planet and therefore we have the greatest responsibility for stopping these raping, pillaging, plundering, & murdering bastards!

11 replies
    • admin
      admin says:

      And thank you for helping me out by giving me the positive feedback. I have long admired Thoreau for the simplicity and wisdom he gave us and I too, hope for a simple life in the woods.

      Reply
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      We give what we get and the kind words from people like yourself inspire me to keep on fighting for a better world. I look forward to more conversations.

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      admin says:

      How true my friend. If you get a chance, look up a very short book by Twain called “The War Prayer.” It was so powerful that he wouldn’t allow it to be published until after he died.

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