ap·a·thy

ˈapəTHē/

noun

 lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.
“widespread apathy among students”
synonyms: indifference, lack of interest, lack of enthusiasm, lack of concern,unconcern, uninterestedness, unresponsiveness, impassivity, dispassion,lethargylanguorennui;

rareacedia
“widespread apathy among the voters”

Recently I have been caught in one of my torrents of deep, philosophic thought. A sort of internal self-discourse. It’s really interesting to me to notice the things that give me such pause and make me think. There have been a few of these things lately. Usually, when I get into one of these cycles of intense, even existential thought, there is a single thing that I can trace it back to. A movie I watched, a book I read, an article I read, some news headline that caught my attention, a song’s lyrics that struck me. My current mental tirade though has been building for a little while, and while I can’t trace it back to the single catalyst, I can name some things that have contributed to stoking the fire.

First, let me begin by defining my current mental state. My current mental state could be described as apathetic. Maybe disappointed? Maybe disenfranchised, maybe fed up, maybe stagnant, maybe indifferent. Maybe all of the above. Not these feelings necessarily with regards to life itself, I’m not depressed. I don’t have a question of why I continue to live or if I should just end it all. It’s not like that. My feelings with regards to my family are that they are my reason for living. My wife and kids are my life. It’s my feelings with regards to the veneer of life. It’s accouterments. All of the little things that happen exterior of my life, that affect my life, but that are not my life – those are the things regarding which I experience these feelings.

These are the things: government, economy, social in/justice, environment, culture. There are things within each of these categories that cause me so much frustration and anger that I have finally just reached a point of complete apathy. I don’t want to care. I can’t care. Because if I care, I allow myself to get frustrated and angry again, because it will happen.

I grew up in a fairly moderate home. My parents were neither very politically charged. I was never beaten over the head with Republican rhetoric about smaller government and free enterprise capitalism. Neither was I exposed to the atrocities caused by government exploitation of natural resources and cheap labor, the inequalities in our social systems, or the effects of big business on Mr. Everyday American. My parents were busy keeping our house afloat and together. They were too busy putting food on our table to worry about how the person next door was getting their food put on their table by the government. So naturally I grew up without any political bias.

As I grew older, got into my teenage years and into college, I began to enter what I call the Bleeding-heart phase. I’m pretty sure everyone, or almost everyone, goes through a phase like this, usually in high school or college where our eyes are opened to the terrible atrocities that the human being is capable of, the unthinkable transgressions of big business, big government, the unforgivable exploitation of our planet by those without a conscience…you know what I’m talking about. It’s our hippy phase. I got full-blown into my hippy phase and began to develop some understanding of communist ideas, of course more in a Utopian kind of way rather than a Nazi, Mussolini, Marx kind of way. I began following ideas about the desperation with which we need legislation to protect our environment, endangered animals, to stop the clear-cutting of our old growth forests in Oregon, etc, etc. I began reading about the horrors of war, the way the United States treated POWs in Vietnam, Korea, the way we policed the world in the first Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, the second Iraq War. Our war machine rumbles on as it has for decades. I read about the conspiracies of the government, the back-room dealings of politicians, the ulterior motives that the American public shouldn’t know about. Needless to say, I became a quintessential bleeding-heart, everyone-deserves-a-chance, equality for all, Occupy Wall Street, save-the-whales liberal Democrat. “No I don’t mind a flat 60% tax rate if that means that everyone gets their fair share”.

The problem is that I got older, I experienced a little bit more, read a little bit more, and learned a little bit more. 

Now, can I say I know better? I can definitely say that my mindset has changed.

I don’t necessarily disagree now with things that I believed then. As a matter of fact, I still hold many of the beliefs that I held then, if not more so now. I do believe that there are some good concepts to communism. I even believe that there is an aspect of communism that I am called to as a Christian man.

Acts 2:44-45
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

What is different now is what I guess I would have to call realism. I know that there is greed in business. I know that there is self-preservation in politics. I know that there are agendas. I know that there is the almighty Dollar to bow to. I know that there is hatred. I know that there is prejudice and racism. And my question is how to I rectify the reality with my ideals?

And that’s where my apathy comes in. I feel like no matter how many protests there are for peace, tolerance, acceptance, non-violence, equality, whatever – there will always be an equal number of people ready to capitalize on the opportunity to make a buck, or push their agenda, or just incite some anarchic violence.
My feelings of disappointment are with human nature. Not with the System. Not with the Man. Not with government, or big business, or radical environmentalists, or any person. My apathy comes from 30 years now of seeing things change for the better, then for the worse, for the better, then for the worse. The world I live in now is no better off than the world I was born into. Some may say it’s worse off, but history is cyclical. I feel so small and insignificant when standing faced with the problems of this world. I imagine so many others share my feelings and we truly want to do something about it, we just can never seem to make a difference. And so enters the state that I am in now.

The only thing I can have hope in is God.

As a man, I am incapable of overcoming my human nature. Only through the power of God, that is bestowed upon us by accepting the Gift of Life through Christ, can any change be made. Now here I go getting all preachy. Buckle up.

Am I saying that human nature is naturally bad? No. I am saying that human nature is selfish. Human nature is to preserve oneself. It is to please oneself. It is not to help someone else, to give to someone else, to sacrifice. Through the centuries there are examples of good men who were not selfish, self-promoting, self-preserving. And, likewise, there are plenty more examples of quite the opposite. But what is, to me, undeniable is the clear presence of God and his Mercy and Grace throughout time.

Forget time. Let’s look at the time that I’m familiar with. Let’s look at my life. I have many times found myself in dark places. Financial depths. Drinking. Partying. Nearing divorce with my wife. I mean, I remember a time, second or third year of our marriage, where I was literally going through my days waiting for the “last straw”. I felt that I knew our marriage was going to end, I was just waiting for the impact. Somehow, though, it didn’t. And it hasn’t after eight years now. I remember my wife talking about how she wanted kids so bad and just the thought of kids made me want to cry because there was no way I wanted to bring a child into the torrent of a relationship that my wife and I had. I now have a 3 year old daughter and an almost-one year old son that I am so proud of. I remember nights of partying, getting so drunk or high or both that I could barely walk and driving home. There were mornings I would wake up without any recollection of how I got home. There were so many nights I could have, and probably should have, died but didn’t. I remember my brother being a crack head. Living homeless a couple of times, trying to kill himself by snorting 15 grams of coke in one sitting. Why were we still here? Why hadn’t I died driving drunk so many times? How was I still married? How did I have kids that weren’t completely screwed up?

Grace.

And so here we are, back to my apathy. I sit in my office, reading about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, some guy that got shot by his two year old, the execution of an antiquities expert by ISIS, the life sentence for the Colorado movie theater shooter, another shooter, another bomb, another terror group, another war, another celebrity child pornography scandal. Yes, I do have feelings of apathy. I do have feelings of helplessness. But the thing that will always be in the back of my mind is God and his Grace.

It’s funny that I started this piece to talk about the book that I’m reading V for Vendetta and how I’ve reached the end of my rope and am going to become a radical political activist. It’s funny how just writing sometimes helps you work through things the way just thinking can’t. And as I was typing the words my mind turned to God and his Grace. How fitting is it, that literally as I’m typing this blog post about apathy, disappointment, and indifference I am arrested by the one thing that can overcome it. And now this post is no longer a languished rant about everything that is wrong with this world, but rather it is now a testament to the one thing that has the power to fix this world.