Yeah, the word is screwed up. Yeah, there’s suffering. Now shut up and do something about it.
A growing epidemic in America today is apathy. When people feel overwhelmed with the horrible things that are going on in the world, they usually do one of three things: become part of the corruption, try to become active against it, or become apathetic. Unfortunately, many of the people who become apathetic are the ones with consciences; who would become active if they thought there was any hope.
Much of the “outcast” culture is made up of those who have lost hope; the gutter punks, the Goths, the druggies. Many Goths get into existentialist philosophy (more nihilist, actually), and obsess over death and suffering. Life sucks, so why bother? There’s nothing you can do about it. When I argue with them, they tell me to look at history. Who has always prevailed throughout history? The corrupt. I try to tell them that’s not true. Most of human history has not even been recorded. It’s gotten to the point where we’re trying to prevent global disaster, and we need people to become active. It’s no longer, “Save the poor Spotted Owl,” but more, “Save ourselves before there’s Armageddon!” More people have a voice now than in any other time in history; more people have gone through school and are literate now than in any other time in history. This is the time that we can and must rise up.
A lot of apathetic people have been misinformed. They need to be educated. We have seen the power the media has with telling people slanted truths and controlling their opinions. The American public is unaware of what’s really going on in the world; it was so shocking when the Twin Towers were hit—“I don’t understand. Why would anyone want to hurt America?” one person’s reaction was shown on the news. A teenage girl was filmed saying, “I’ve always thought of America as some big super hero. How could anyone have done this to us?” Do these people really not know what we’ve done to other countries and other people? Do they really think that everything’s just fine and dandy, and the planes crashing into the World Trade Center was a freak incident?
The truth is, had this been any other country in the world, a large building being attacked by terrorists would not have come as such a surprise. We’ve been sheltered for too long.
The people in this country who have consciences and are aware of what is going on can be divided into two groups: those who take action, and those who are apathetic. Sadly, apathy has become endemic in our country. We feel overpowered by this corrupt government and don’t see a point in trying to do anything. But if all the apathetic people in this country got together and took action, we would have a huge movement on our hands.
We complain that there’s nothing to do. Yet that’s because nothing is happening to us. The starving in third-world countries have no choice; they struggle every day. Don’t we owe it to them to do the same?
America has a remarkably low voter turnout. Many complain that the youth don’t care nowadays. But, within this century, the highest voter turnout was in 1960—64%. The last presidential election had barely 50% of the voting age go to the polls. So how relative is “nowadays”?
At Antioch College, my fellow students are much less apathetic, but most of the reasons people go there is to create social change. Even in Berkeley, California, where I’m from, I tire of worrying that every time I make a comment about taking action or going to a protest, I get people whining and moaning about how nothing’s going to help. Why don’t you go to India, look some starving kids in the eye and say the same thing?
I think a lot of it actually has to do with ignorance. Seeing this world in all its nasty forms is draining on anybody, but there are people working all over the world to change it.
All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow...