“Love is best expressed with deeds, and not mere words.” – Swahili proverb
One of the less talked about demands of our time is how we are easily trapped into being selfishly caught up in only in our own aspirations and goals, so much so that we do not have energy in us to think about the interest of others and the wider society. And even though this is a negative attribute, many of us have been lured into believing it is better to focus on achieving personal greatness before we find ways to pull others along.
It is true that passion energises us to care about the interests of our aspirations, synergising the artist and the scientist in us for us to do wonderfully better than we are probably capable of. Regrettably, passion can consume you and make you very indifferent to the world around you. This negative essence of passion is rarely talked about. We highlight and accentuate the positive and deny the danger of its negatives. It is a denial that usually creates silence in us and kills our reflective intellectualism. It narrows our vision of life and we no longer care about the cares of others. It deteriorates our relationships to a point where facts are less important than choosing sides. It degenerates into madness, the madness of apathy.
A surprising number of us have been caught in this web. Our desire for success has made us apathetic. We have become soulless bodies who care little about the rotational efficacy of our communities and that of the earth. Very rarely do we step out of the ‘this-is-what-I-want’ world into the realm of ‘every-little-tock-ticks-the-world’. We hitchhike through life not caring about what happens to the world as a result of our thoughts, words and actions, much less those of other people. We do not even notice whether the sun shines or doesn’t. All we care about is what we are getting out of life.
It not surprising many of us are merely standing by, watching the world turn into a jelly. We have lost interest in ourselves and in our environment. Like zombies, we slink through the moments that the hands of time tell us. No wonder poverty, crime and sicknesses have wrapped themselves tight around us – even though we are living in an era blessed with more than enough intellectual progress that can and should proffer solutions for all the challenges around us. We are so indifferent about everything that does not directly contributes to our success that we do not even realise our societies are degenerating and the foundations of our humanity are weakening.
We all have our individual reasons for being apathetic about life, but apathy makes the world a selfish and filthy place. It makes us overlook our ‘inter-dependent’ responsibility and moulds us into carefree and cruel chauvinists. It adorns us with a blasé attitude as we walk through the valley of emotions. We can see the suffering of others, but we cannot feel it – and so we do nothing about it. We can talk and write about corruption and injustice, and yet when push comes to shove, we refuse to hold the culprits responsible.
What we do not realise with this apathetic attitude is that it is creating an anti-intellectual mindset. It makes us feed our egos with pettiness and extraneous aspirations. This unconsciously gives rise to situations wherein we take and/or support decisions because they favour us and not because they are for the good of our communities and society. We formulate and choose strategies based on selfish desires. And the ultimate harm done is that it strips our relationships of love and centres them on convenience. In summary, it makes us unaware of our awareness.
Many of us have become testosterone-laden individuals striving for personal achievements. Our only cares gravitate toward that which will contribute to the realisation of only our own aspirations. We have cultivated to the finest art of our detachment from responsibility toward society, with the excuse that a collection of great personal achievements would altogether make society better. We revel in the philosophy that we will give back to society when we have made it. Truth be told, if you are not mindful of the cares of our humanity while you wait your turn to climb the ladder, you cannot give back to it when you are at the top. You will always invent a deluxe excuse to free yourself from giving back.
Apathy is a disease because it serves as the breeding ground for most atrocities that befall our humanity. Its insensitivity blinds accountability and limits the definition of ‘harm to society’ to only physical cruelties. That is why a surprising number of good individuals fall victim to it. But the time has come for us to take steps to stop the madness of apathy. It is time to choose to spend our time wisely. It is time to re-orient our aspirations.
It is great to be successful, but it is even greater to ensure the success of our humanity and society. It is time to care about the cares of others and everybody. It is time to be sympathetic to the world around you. It is time to assume responsibility and minimise apathy. It is time to let go of our self-defeating behaviour by scrutinising our hidden prejudices as well as questioning the thoughts that take up our time.
Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and helps them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org