Friday, February 20, 2015

You Can't Actually Fence Sit // Why Apathy Isn't Real

Apathy seems to keep coming up.  In government class, and in chapel, and in religion class, and probably somewhere else that I didn't care enough to take note of.  (Get it? That was a reference to being apathetic. Haha. )  It keeps coming up, and it's been bugging me, too.  You know how sometimes things that you hear seem to find a way to latch onto your brain and not leave, like, ever?  That's me.  Everything anyone ever says sounds like "apathy" and my soup noodles spelled it out (it wasn't even alphabet soup . . . I know) and my eyes keep rearranging letters to spell "apathy" (I'm not even dyslexic . . . I KNOW.Crazy.)  Jk.  It's just been on the brain. 

When I have things on the brain, especially things that are kind of complicated and confusing, the solution is usually to write it out.  Usually in blog form, unless it's something 1) really embarrassing (I usually end up posting those once they're far enough in the past to not be painful, anyway) 2) really personal 3) really boring.  Let's talk about apathy, then, shall we?  I think it qualifies as blog-thinking worthy. 

As the whole apathy thing rolls around in my head (and on the pages of my books and in my non-alphabet soup), I've been observing.  Here, you can take a look. 

// Not choosing one way or another is a choice.  I tend to be pretty non-confrontational and deathly afraid of failure, so a lot of times I'll act apathetically in order to avoid making someone mad or doing something wrong.  If I don't know how to act, I'll just not act.  Example:  Not talking to my friend who's obviously having a crappy day because for fear of making it worse.  Example: Not speaking up when I see something wrong happening because I don't want to create a conflict.  Example: Not volunteering for / participating in something that I'm not completely sure I'll do well at. Well, guess what, Allie? (I sometimes blog to myself because I'm a narcissist.)  As it turns out, not acting at all counts as doing something.  There's not really a way to avoid making a decision as to how to act or speak, because that in itself is a decision, and it's the wrong one.  It's like what MLK said, "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."  

You'd probably be able to appreciate that quote a lot more if you'd read his letter from Birmingham jail.  I'm going to assume that, since your government teacher isn't forcing you to read it, you probably won't, and hope that those words can mean something to you anyway.  (BTW, I totally recommend reading it - I just know what I'd do in your shoes.) 

// Apathy comes from paying too much attention to me. Okay, I can't take complete credit for this one.  Or any credit at all.  Observation credit goes to Olivia*, who talked to me about apathy in religion class. Thanks, Olivia.  Okay, now she can't sue me.  Let's get on with it.  

Olivia* wisely pointed out to me that apathy is so easy to do because sometimes we're too focused on ourselves to even take notice of the people that we're not supposed to be acting apathetic towards.  In other words, apathy doesn't usually intentionally because we're ignoring our fellow humans; it's completely unintentional.  We're too busy looking at ourselves to see anyone else.  You know that "Oh my gosh, I had no idea" feeling that comes when you find out about something that's been going on for forever, right in front of you, to someone you care about, that you simply overlooked?  I get that one a lot, and that's what I'm talking about. 

// Apathy gets in the way of God's best plan for my life. Not that long ago, I realized that, in order to do what God wants me to, I've got to get better at people.  (My inner introvert jammed her earbuds in, grabbed a book, and ran for the nearest sparsely-populated coffee shop.) But, really, in order to do what God wants, which is based on making friends and loving and supporting them, apathy can't really be in the picture.  If I'm too wrapped up in my own thoughts or tired or grumpy to start a conversation with someone, I'm definitely not going to have a chance to make friends or ever help them in any way.  

The plus side of this one is that God wants to help me not be apathetic, because then I can do his work better.  He can help me to do things that I don't feel like doing and to get better at looking at other people more than myself; however, he also completely gets me when I'm feeling less than enthusiastic.  He was a human for a while once, so he understands what I'm going through, making him the best helper ever.

// Lack of action is socially acceptable and easy.  Apathy is so common because it's so easy.  Ignoring the new kid or not offering to help a friend right away prevents me from having to go out of my way. So. Easy. I've also noticed that it's pretty rare for a person to be called out for not caring enough.  Since apathy is a passive thing, it's rarely condemned.  It's kind of hard to point at someone and say, "You're being so apathetic!  Shame on you!" because, well, they aren't doing anything.  So we keep apathizing, because it's safe.  

It's probably pretty common knowledge that safer isn't better, right?  I mean, except for when you're climbing a very tall thing or jaywalking.  Not worth it. The whole stepping-out-of-your-comfort-zone thing that I always hate to hear because I'm very attached to mine comes into play here.  This is definitely a case in which doing the hard thing is the way to go (why is it always like that?)  

Apathy's kind of enigmatic (I just learned that word today - be proud and let me know if I used it wrong) because it's an absence of something, kind of like darkness or coldness.  It just kind of sneaks in there, making it really hard to avoid, and, also like darkness and coldness, it has a presence that demands to be felt. (Looking at you, 30-below forecast.)  We know it's there, and it affects the people we're around and probably like way too much to knowingly neglect.  

It's so hard to not be apathetic - it's so much a part of what humans are.  I'd suggest that we all just stop trying to apathetic ever, at all, (because how great would that be?) but that's kind of unreasonable.  I believe that God's the only way that I can start genuinely caring about other people and get rid of apathy before it does too much damage.  So, I think I'll ask him for help and go from there.

*That's not her name. 

See you next time!


U, me and the kids

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