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see a lot of apathy when I'm working with teenagers, and I see
more of it when I'm teaching high school than when I'm
teaching college. The high school kids very often
haven't seen any practical importance in anything they're
doing, so many of them truly don't care about the classes
they're in or the world in which they live. This not
caring leads them to squander many great opportunities--not
learning material in a certain class, not taking advantage of
a particularly gifted teacher, not pursuing chances that arise
in their lives.
can certainly sympathize with apathetic people, for it's very
easy to be caught in cycles that don't allow us to see the
importance of certain things in life, or that cause us to feel
that most of what we do is pretty pointless, anyway.
After all, when even a close election is decided by a couple of
million votes, it can be difficult to see the significance in
voting. And when we read about the wars and the economic
crises and the graft and corruption among politicians, it can
make us feel pretty powerless, pretty insignificant.
The problem, though, is that apathetic people tend to see their
"uselessness" or "hopelessness" in a very broad
sense--they see how they affect (or don't affect) the entire world, and
they lose their focus on the effects that they can have within their own
sphere of influence. They don't see how simple actions can have
very positive effects on themselves, their friends, their co-workers, or
even strangers on the street.
we define "apathy" for ourselves, I think that we
would come up with many different definitions.
hyperactive workaholic, even some active people may be
considered apathetic, while the moderately active person may
see the bar as being a bit lower. But the main gist of
the word seems to be a state of not caring, of not finding
enthusiasm or hope or excitement about anything in our minds
or in our hearts or in our spirits. The apathetic person
simply seems not to care about anything, and seems to be fine
letting life go by without making any of his or her own
contributions to it.
if I'm apathetic, then I'm not creating conditions in which I
learn. After all, our most effective and most important
learning comes when we've taken actions and we learn from the
results of those actions, be the results positive or negative,
what we hoped for or what we hoped to avoid. A lack of
action keeps us from learning very important lessons.
also keeps us from forming alliances and feeling connections
to our fellow human beings. Apathy tends to be a lonely
state, one that keeps us from doing what we can to help
others, and that keeps us from asking others for help.
unfortunately, our apathy keeps us from making a positive mark
or three on the world in our own unique ways. If I don't
care about things, I'm not going to volunteer my time to help
other people. If I don't care, I'm not going to
challenge myself to make things better. If I'm
apathetic, it's very easy to simply sit on the couch and
passively experience the entertainment that's been created by
people who have taken action and who have pursued their
while it's tempting to look at apathy as simply a personal
problem, the fact is that it's a societal problem that's
incredibly dangerous. Apathy is one of those traits that
can damage people and systems like almost nothing else can,
simply through the inaction of apathetic people in times when
action is called for. And unfortunately, we seem to be
teaching our young people to be less and less concerned with
societal issues and more and more concerned about personal
issues and personal gratification.
is a quality that makes people very frustrated--have you ever
tried to drum up interest among a group of people who just
don't care? And when apathetic people get together, they
tend to feed off each other, supporting each other's ideas
that what they do doesn't matter. For people who are
trying to be active and get important things done, apathy can
be an obstacle greater than laws, an often-insurmountable
mountain over which they're unable to move.
apathetic people whom I've known have convinced themselves
that what they do doesn't matter. They've talked
themselves into believing that other people don't care about
them or what they do. They're fully convinced that even
if they do act, their actions will have no effect on others or
on the world. Perhaps the best way to approach apathy is
by trying to convince the apathetic person that their actions
do matter, maybe by taking every opportunity we can to thank
them for something that they've done, telling them that it has
had a positive effect on us.
the best way for us to deal with apathy is through caring
enough to convince the apathetic people that they're wrong
when they think that what they do just doesn't matter.
is a sort of living oblivion.
apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap
from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead.
William Lloyd Garrison
up, in the long run, to cowardice.
people behind the words
Two - Year Three
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Most people are on the
world, not in it--having no conscious sympathy
to anything about them--undiffused, separate, and
alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.
Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has
no remedy for the worst of them all--the apathy of human beings.
tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous
to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.
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When an individual fear or apathy would cause us
to pass by the unfortunate, then life is of no account.
have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love
is not hate--it's apathy. It's not giving a damn.
Apathy--not hate--is the opposite of love. It is this apathy
first to the death of the psyche, and in its
extreme form to the death
of the body.
Jane G. Goldberg
people confuse acceptance with apathy, but there's all the difference
in the world. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what
be helped; acceptance makes that distinction. Apathy paralyzes the
acceptance frees it by relieving it of impossible burdens.
So much attention
is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and
cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little
is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in
the long run can have a more devastating effect.
the most dangerous foe we have to fight is apathy--indifference from
whatever cause, not from a lack of knowledge, but from carelessness,
from absorption in other pursuits, from a contempt bred of self-satisfaction.
far more important to resist apathy than anarchy
or despotism, for apathy can give rise, almost indifferently, to either
Alexis de Tocqueville
Apathy and evil. The two work hand
in hand. They are the same,
really. Evil wills it. Apathy allows it. Evil hates the
the defenseless most of all. Apathy doesn't care
as long as it's not personally inconvenienced.
is one of the characteristic responses of any living organism when
it is subjected to stimuli too intense or too complicated to cope
The cure for apathy is comprehension.
John Dos Passos
apathy is more powerful than public opinion. There's more of it.
The death of democracy is
not likely to be an assassination from ambush.
It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and
Robert M. Hutchins
is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by
Henri Frederic Amiel
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.
not the dead that in the cool earth lie,
but rather mourn the apathetic throng,
the coward and the meek
who see the world's great anguish and its wrong,
and dare not speak.
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History will have to record that the greatest tragedy during this period
of social transition was not the vitriolic words and the violent actions
of the bad people, but the appalling silence and indifference of the good
people. Our generation will have to repent not only for the words and
acts of the children of darkness, but also for the fears and apathy of the children of light.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The opposite of love is not
hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is
not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy,
indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's
one enemy is worse than despair: indifference. In every area of
human creativity, indifference is the enemy; indifference of evil is
worse than evil, because it is also sterile.
opposite of love is not hate--it's apathy. It's not giving a damn.
somebody hates me, they must "feel" something. . . or they
possibly hate. Therefore, there's some way in which I can get to them.
On my desk lies a
letter from a friend, a clergyman. "The trouble with
most of us," he writes, "isn't active or deliberate
wickedness; it's lethargy,
absence of caring, lack of involvement in life. To keep our
comfortable and well fed and entertained seems to be all that matters.
But the more successful we are at this, the more entombed the soul
in solid, immovable flesh. We no longer hear the distant trumpet
toward it; we listen to the pipes of Pan and fall asleep."
And this good man
goes on wistfully: "How can I rouse my people, make them
yearn for something
more than pleasant, socially acceptable ways of escaping from
life? How can
I make them want to thrust forward into the unknown, into the world of
and trusting their own spirit? Oh, how I wish I
There's only one answer, really. Each of us must be
willing, at least sometimes,
to chop wood instead of sitting by the fire. Each of us must
guard against the
influences that lull and seduce us toward a state of nonliving.
Each of us must
fight our own fight against the betrayal of life that comes from
refusing to live it.
Touch of Wonder