Weaponized Apathy

We seem to find ourselves in a malaise these dark, late winter days. The boils that have lay festering on the American psyche have burst in recent years and have spread a silent rage and aching apathy. Too many years we have ignored rising issues and instead of talking about the issues we have hidden behind screen names and shouted at one another on forums and message boards. Us. Them. It’s always a battle to protect the small piece of familiarity that we call ours. If we lose it then do we lose ourselves? Do we lose everything? That’s the question, isn’t it? Our jobs. Our homes. Our families. Our amenities. Will we lose it all if we open ourselves to the What If of social issues?

What if They…

What if I…

What will It…

Questions without easy answers. Some without any answers.

Some of us get angry. Others shut down. Better to shut down, to shut out than to stand on the wrong side of an issue. We have become a culture with pitchforks by the bedside and with one hand on our phones and the other on a Molotov. We are more than happy to point out the hypocrites, the liars, the cheats, and anyone that ends up on the wrong side of an issue. We don’t want to educate. We don’t want to learn. We want to burn, to devour, and to shame. HOW DARE someone come from another place in life that gives them a different outlook? So soon we forget that our morality was written on a slide rule and that our view of one another and the world is ever evolving as we do the same. Some issues are clear as far as their Rightness or Wrongness but it’s the nuances that we forget. The shades of gray. It’s easy to get made at one another but without taking the time to consider why we stand on opposite sides of an issue we never learn whether or not there is a common ground we could share. We are nearing a point where we better start seeing one another through the issues and find ways to work together or we’ll create a greater divide and a deeper wound that will never be healed.

But it’s so hard.

And apathy so easy.

Better to not care than to be wrong.

It makes me think of the people I have met along the way that will tell me of books they have written but which live in drawers. Worlds they have created but never knew how to breathe life into. And after a while you just accept that maybe other people are not meant to go to your worlds. Maybe other people are not meant to hear your song. Other people are not meant to see your picture. So we shrug off our passions and loves and put our noses to the grindstone, the old adage of having to grow up and be adults finally poisoning the children in us until they are finally still and cold. There are fires out in the wild, small but brilliant, tiny spaces of hope that are always there but which the darkness consumes and too many live lives without seeing that fire and never know its warmth.  We grow to worship at the altars of apathy and anger and never see the world beyond us with our heads bowed. Never seeing that everyone else wrestles with the same issues, the same questions, and the same fears. We accept a defeat that we write ourselves because it’s better to accept that than to have someone take from you your love of a thing, something I have felt the keen sting of once upon a time.

We vote for the lesser of our perceived evils. We vote for the person less likely to take away the things we hold dear.

We raise our limp fists into the air to protest, defiant until someone is looking, when we drop our arms and glue our eyes to our feet. We all want to be originals so long as we don’t look different. We have become the machinery we hate.

Life feels like a very deep grave which we struggle against but eventually settle into because it’s safe there, and warm, and not very far from where we end up.

Except…

We light our own fires. We create our own hope. We find our own way.

And we’re wrong.

A lot.

Because sometimes the only way to learn what we believe in is to be wrong for a while and then have our eyes opened. And in the end, this is our path, this is our belief, and so long as you harm no one, it’s yours to believe in what you will. We spend so much time telling each other that we’re wrong that we forget that faith, belief, understanding has to come from within. You can learn everything in the world but unless you can apply it it means nothing. The world you live in and believe in is not the same I live in and believe in and we need to work every day to find the places where our beliefs intersect. Most of the time this is easy, but not always. But it’s worth the struggle. We’re worth the fight. I spent years and years under a cloud cover I had created and I wasn’t happy, but I felt safe. I had learned that the world could be cruel, people could be nasty, and that you suffered less if you just hid away. Only…that was no life. That was only a continued existence and we owe it to ourselves to dig our way out of our graves, to seek out the lights in the world and to find the strength to be a light ourselves. There are people in this world who are Dark Merchants, who want society to remain as it always has, to never change, and to never evolve. There are people who want things as they have been because it is comfortable – for them. But they don’t get to decide those things for all of us. They may serve as cultural dams but dams will always break. Always.

We don’t have to argue.

We don’t have to fight.

We don’t have to hide.

We don’t have to feel as if our opinion is wrong.

We don’t have to wait for someone tell us what we do is good.

We don’t have to wait for someone to tell us we’re beautiful and worthy.

We already have all of that power ourselves. And that’s what makes being here and now and what we are so amazing. We can change the world right this instant by just reaching out to someone who is lost like us. We can change our lives by believing in our art enough to pursue it, not into a brick wall, but out of the darkness of doubt.

Let’s stop agreeing, OK?

Can we agree with that?

Ha!
Yes, this world is bleak, and dark, and miserable…because we make it that way for one another. But what if we, in whatever ways we were able, lit a fire against that darkness, against that apathy, and slowly, bit by bit we’d realize that the cloud cover was thin, that we were never alone here, and that there was beauty just waiting to be seen.

I write fiction. I have books. Go take a look – http://www.meepsheep.com 

Author: Chris Ringler

Writer, blogger, reviewer, artist, arts and cultural events coordinator, and semi-professional weirdo. Author of a heap of books from horror to fairy tale to kid's.

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