The Spirit of Apathy

Growing up hurts. Even when you’re a whole country… (Image Credit: Adela Aguero Trejos. Information extracted from IPTC Photo Metadata)

The America I thought I knew is changing. Things just do that — they grow and change, gain new things and leave old things behind. It’s what human beings do. It’s what continents and kingdoms do. And a whole, very young country should be no exception.

But America is an old soul, trapped in an adolescent body going through its emo phase. We are afraid of change, and consequently furious that we will have to change the ways we’ve always known, and consequently too proud and stubborn to even imagine being more than we are right now. It’s not a phase, mom, this is who we are, always were, and always will be. If it’s good enough for me, it should be good enough for everyone. Just deal with it.

You can see it in the way the old guard desperately scrabbles to cling to last century’s tactics, which no longer fit in our digital, global age. They refuse to innovate, pander to demographics that no longer exist, and panic when the mark is missed. They still believe that if every figure isn’t double what it was last year — sales, profits, graduation rates, the earth’s population, etc. — then the whole enterprise is a failure.

You can see it in the desperation of certain states to reclaim total control over the womb. Its the ultimate power, in the hands of free people. The government has never been comfortable with that, and wants it back. It just wants things to back to the way it was, to an age where people knew their place and would be grateful for the privilege.

You can see it in the way our own people, with their feet on the ground and their hands hard at work, are struggling to survive. The jobs exist, but the pay hasn’t changed in decades. The food, shelter, medicine, and education exist, but have all trippled in cost. Meanwhile, a handful of our craftiest members out-earn us all by way of an empty title. They destroy their people and the only planet we can survive on, as if they believe they can take the whole thing with them.

What drives this madness? This nation was founded not only on independence, but on the fundamental idea that it could grow and change with time, as new problems and solutions rose and fell with the ages. What caused that fire to fizzle to a petulant ember? What made our passion grow so cold?

There are many factors, I suppose. The one that stands out to me is apathy.

American culture has been invaded by a spirit of cold, vain apathy. An isolating sense that the needs of others are righteously not our problem. That others have brought their own problems upon themselves, and so perhaps their suffering is rightly deserved and unavoidable. That there is nothing to be done about it anyway. That is they were worth the time, they would pull themselves up by their silver-tipped silk bootstraps and make their own way, without begging for help. We are too busy doing nothing to help others do something.

We have won the papacy, so to speak. Let us enjoy it.

I feel deeply for the church, the body I belong to, which is so imbued with this vain spirit as the Lord foretold it would be in the end times. A time when the love we are called to in Jesus Christ would turn cold and work against us. As Christians, we are called to empathy — to see the plight of our fellow man and feel moved to act. To see the poverty of the common working man, and the constant fear forced on our women, and to find the root of the problem and resolve it. To seek justice for the children who still live in slavery, here in our great nation, every day. To forge legislature that doesn’t disenfranchise our citizen or turn away the vulnerable stranger for the sake of money.

And instead, the church has chosen the law. She has become like the Pharisees of old, who would leave her injured brother half dead on the side of the road for fear getting her Sunday best a little dusty. She has chosen apathy, and cleverly convinced herself that it’s just a minor case of OCD. A compulsion to go through the motions that make her feel safest and cleanest, that she simply can’t help. Not even if she wanted to.

Change is hard. Puberty is awkward. Middle age is unsettling. Birth is painful. No one likes or wants to change, but it always comes and finds us. And now it has come for America. It is ready for our country to be more than this sad, self-absorbed emo phase, and do something useful with what we’ve learned from it. Surely we have learned something from it. The feeling of being misunderstood and overwhelmed with emotions, and so helpless to help yourself should breed a longing to make sure no one else ever has to feel that way.

We should want to do something selfless with that.

And instead we choose apathy. We assume someone else will solve the problems, clean up the messes we leave behind, and throw a fit when our responsibility is called into question. We solve housing crises by shrugging and suggesting that displaced residents should just move to a cheaper city — but still commute to their job so that affluent new residents don’t have to make their own coffee or collect their own garbage. We blame blame rape and abortion on women at risk, so we can call it a day and get to the strip club with the guys. We lay off workers in droves when sales are down, so that our multi-million dollar salaries won’t take a hit.

We are too busy living it up, far away from the squalor the middle class has been reduced to. Who cares if people are starving? Who cares if our planet is literally dying? It won’t be our problem.

We don’t care. We quit caring a long time ago, and refuse to change. Its so much easier not to change, to try to force a circle piece into a square-shaped hole, and blame the hole instead of our own selfishness and stupidity. To heap our duties onto younger, stronger, unsuspecting backs and take a long smoke break out back, so we can get mad at them when the work isn’t done properly.

America used to be the beautiful princess in fairy tales. Now, she’s the wicked witch, the ugly step-mother, depriving others of their happily-ever-after because she never found it, herself. She is spite, and she is pure, empty apathy.

But America was never intended to remain a spoiled little princess forever. She was designed to grow the hell up someday, into a queen whose wisdom and leadership would make the whole world proud and unafraid to face the future. It’s fine if her emo phase isn’t just a phase; but it won’t kill her to come out of her room and play acoustic covers for charity or something. Anything.

America will grow up in time, as all things must. Or, she will self-destruct as so many hopeless young people are forced to under today’s pressures. In either case, whatever the result, we are making it a much harder road than it needs to be, and we are paving that road together in an endless cycle of blame, distrust, and hatred. These awkward teen years will be long and ugly. We could turn around and change that at any time…

But will we? After all, change is hard, and apathy is easy.

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Emily Rose

Emily Rose

Just sitting here, making waves… #ramblingrose