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May 25, 2006

Essay - (A)pathetic State-of-Affairs?

Hello Everyone,

One thing the American public certainly does NOT seem apathetic about is who should be the top Pop "IDOL," (read: an image used as an object of worship), with - according to M.C. Ryan Seacrest (see the MSNBC story HERE) - some 50 million people participating in the voting process to ultimately elect Taylor Hicks as the latest winner. The web is virtually crawling with websites devoted to the subject and the apparent controversies surrounding the Idol organization's refusal to publish the actual numbers and political analysts using the theoretical projections to make comparisons with the last presidential voting turnout.

Today, however, Ellen Degeneres had an interesting report on her show today about New Orleans, the Katrina aftermath and how it seems to be recently forgotten by mass-media and the public at large (although many individuals and groups are doing outstanding volunteer work). In response to . . .

. . . recent contributor Melissa Z's thoughts on passivity in the United States, and the interesting commentary that followed (see HERE), English-Blog contributor Samantha V. has the following to say about apathy:


The Depths of Apathy

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." (Albert Einstein)

Apathy is the lack of interest, concern and emotion in matters of importance. It is depicted in the state of indifference; having no feelings for or against a situation. The negative connotation this word receives allows for a negative interpretation of its effects. After exploring the depths of apathy, I found that this word mainly applies to examples within psychology, religion, and politics which also relates to my recent opinion of the word.

Psychologically, this word has been defined in many aspects of mental disorders, such as, depression. The numb, lack of emotion or feeling and impassiveness are all signs of depression and depicted in the word apathy. A depressed or mentally disturbed person might lose interest in the world around them. Experiences they once enjoyed will become distant and inadequate. Many people in the world have experienced depression, whether it be themselves, a family member or a peer. The lack of interest they exhibit is apparent when they avoid everyday social situations, whether it be family or work related. This disorder does not only take a toll on the person diagnosed, but everyone around them. Personally, I have seen family and friends fall to depression. Sometimes, after various forms of treatment endorsed by our "institutions" there is a temporary change in their behavior. With the help of pharmaceutical chemicals in their bloodstreams, they "seem" to care about life and strive for social situations; basically, society then “sees” these persons as able to appreciate the things they once loved again.

While watching a recent television program on the Discovery Health Channel, I observed a sad story about a man experiencing apathy in many ways. Three years before the program aired, this man was involved in a horrible accident in which part of his brain was damaged. He was married and had recently had a son. The part of his brain that was injured is linked to the pleasure zone of his personality. Because of the damage the man is no longer able to love his wife or child. He lives a self-centered, pessimistic life without any interest in the world. Oddly enough, his wife chose to stay with him, even though he could care less, because she knows how sweet and caring he really is. The two had been together since they were seventeen and she wasn't able to abandon him due to his condition. She holds on to the hope that maybe he'll be able to care again, but she states that as long as he's not a detriment to her or their child she will continue by his side.

Apathy also has a negative depiction in some religious doctrines. Doctrines that depict apathetic attitudes as a sin do so because it is considered a dissociation of life. To live life dissociated and apathetically is a kind of destruction of the spirit and/or soul and this results in a state of "hell" for the individual in question. We are seemingly given a short period of time on this earth, and it is our “opportunity” to take advantage of it. This might also apply to people who don't try to change the chaos of rampant destruction in the world.

Recently, the news has been devouring a extreme case of religious protest. Although it is an absurd opposite or religious apathy, these people feel that it is immortal sin if they sit by and let it happen. The Westboro Baptist Church, for example, went as far as to use Coretta Scott King's funeral as a chance to protest the issue of homosexuality. The church had supposedly warned King that by endorsing the homosexual agenda, she was calling down God's wrath, and now is apparently living her afterlife in hell. This is an extreme case of religious protest and I, of course, do not agree with the message or they way they carried it out, but it is a perfect example of the opposite of religious apathy.

One of the best examples of apathy is political apathy. Although there are millions of organizations trying to get people involved, the majority of our community seems that it would just like to be left alone. Ranging from the rich to the poor, everyone can get involved, but so many just choose not to. The U.S., like many countries around the world, is supposed to be a democracy and its citizens are given the opportunity to have an opinion. So, why then don't more people take advantage of this incredible power to make important changes? Although we still have this “right” afforded to us, only a small percentage of the masses seem to find (or will make) the time to vote during elections. The local and state elections are the most crucial for getting grass-roots representation. Often, we have people who wait until the presidential election is over to put in their two cents worth about politics and in the meantime complain or disapprove how the government is run or represented. If these people care so much to express their opinions, why are they not voting for their local and state branch?

It is also evident when we observe atrocities on the news every night. Typically, a viewer will just shake their head disapprovingly, and that's about it. There is suffering going on around the world and it doesn't take much to contribute to the efforts against it. These apathetic people must realize that this is their world too and the destruction can only go so far until it hits home. They should care about how their government is being run, and how they are being represented. If everyone cared more about these matters then it’s only academic that most of these atrocities would begin to disappear.

Apathy: the lack of interest, concern and emotion over matters of importance. Commonly, an apathetic person might be understood only as a lazy degenerate, but if more people took a chance to evaluate what they do in their life, they will see that they can be apathetic too. There are several kinds of apathy; I have described only three relevant types: Psychological, religious and political. Apathy has proved to have a negative correlation to life. I see apathy as the fuel to self-destruction; there is only one way of stopping the deterioration of our world and that is to have demonstrable interest, concern and emotion over matters of importance to this planet and its inhabitants.

~ Samantha V.

Comments for Samantha's article "The Depths of Apathy?" Please leave them below:

*Read more English-Blog essays HERE!

Posted by lhobbs at May 25, 2006 11:06 AM

Readers' Comments:

Diagnosing 'mental disorders' is NOT an exact science. That's what makes it dangerous sometimes. I worked with 'autistic' kids in a hospital setting, and the 'Psychiatrist' had intense psychotropic ordered for 'acting out behaviors.'

Posted by: Health Wizard at March 30, 2007 01:32 AM

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