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Age of Apathy

There is no greater question, one more rich with impact and implication for the whole universe, than the question: How should life be lived? Strangely, there are very few that explicitly ask this question today, and even fewer who venture an answer. This despite the fact that all of us carry an answer around in our souls, though few are aware of it. But all that we do, all we say, how we work, how we eat, what we believe, what we worship, what we do with our time; all this and more is bound up in how we believe life should be lived.
It is even more strange how completely this question is ignored when one considers the growing discontent with modern life. Expressions of unhappiness with life in general abound all around us. But no one seems to want to do anything about it. We all see the problems. Yet we are either too tired, too busy, too bored, too frightened or too invested in the world as it is to act. We would rather put the task of reforming the world on someone else’s shoulders.
Or perhaps there is even a deeper problem. Maybe the reason why no one can muster the effort to combat the problems of the world is that, at heart, no one really cares. Or at least no one cares enough to actually do anything about it besides carry on a rant or two on facebook. I am sure the reasons are many. Maybe you tell yourself the time is not right to get involved. Maybe you fear upsetting the powers of the world and how this might affect you or your family. Maybe you see the problem as too large, too vast, too systemic to actually do anything about. Or maybe you have been dulled by the past decades of impotent activism: walks and ribbons, telethons, fund-raising dinners. All of which have done little to assuage the true suffering of the world.
Whatever your reasons, the result is the same. If your excuse for inaction is greater than your concern then the result is apathy. Even if you really do feel bad for starving children, or those exploited by the sex trade, or victims of injustice, the end is still apathy if your feelings do not stir you from your couch. Even if you really are angry at the increased encroachment of the federal government upon our freedoms, if that anger boils silently within you, then your lack of concern is greater than your anger.
This is apathy.
This is the hallmark of our age.
If an age be known by the dominant spirit that rules over it, then ours is the Age of Apathy. And it matters little where you believe the true source of the problem lies. It doesn’t matter of you believe the problem is a liberal or conservative problem, a social or moral issue, a religious or educational deficiency. It doesn’t matter if you think we are over-medicated or under nourished. It doesn’t matter if the problem as you see it is financial, political, environmental, sexual or philosophical. In any and all ways we are equally mute and unmoved on the subject. We are universally uninspired across the political and religious spectrum.
Apathy is the spirit of our age.
By default, because we are given over to apathy, we are also subject to mediocrity. Our entertainment is shallow and stale. Our social lives are increasingly withdrawn and isolated. Our loyalties and loves are fleeting and shallow. Our work is meaningless and our faith is weak. Our art and philosophy are unintelligible. Our politicians are robotic and our politics have degenerated into factionalism. Our deepest concerns do not reach beyond what we can find on sale or what transpires night after night on the cheaply contrived fictions of reality television, where everything is put on display except for shame. Our greatest pleasures move hardly beyond pornography, an illicit affair, or the success of our favorite sports team. We rely on drugs to get us through the motions of an ordinary day. We have become fearful, weak, fat and lazy. We are spoon-fed information from self-professed experts and media outlets who have no care or regard for truth, bear no accountability or responsibility, and present information so biased it hardly resembles reality. At best we have become domestic slaves, bound to the wheel of suburban bliss. Yet as long as we continue to receive cheap food and entertainment, high-speed internet connections and safely homogenous neighborhoods, we will suffer any other wrong that might infect the world.
Yet we know that there is something terribly wrong with life and we continue to do nothing about it. Our apathy remains stronger than our concern. And as long as this is the case the miserable powers that have usurped life will continue their grey and lifeless reign over us.

One Response to Age of Apathy

  1. i agree in a lot of ways robert. what i want to know, and maybe this is the pastor in me, is why? why are we so apathetic about the things earlier generations were passionate about? the answer i come up with is that we are apostate–we have walked away from faith. the result is apathy so, for me, it is more of a symptom of the underlying problem. therefore i would label us not as an age of apathy but an age of apostasy.

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