Apathy at the Root of Social Ills
by Scott Allen Miller

One of the requirements of being a columnist is caring about humanity. Unfortunately, the more a person begins to care about humanity, the more that person gets put outside of the mainstream.

At first glance, the second statement seems as if it is impossible to be true. The more you learn, though, the more you might realize its truth. Even though it is human nature to be self-interested, it is not human nature to be apathetic. Intense self-interest -- not selfishness, not egotism -- eventually leads outside the individual, bringing a person into greater connection between the world around. This is sometimes called awareness.

Awareness is frightening. Terrifying. Shocking. Disappointing. Revolting. At first. Eventually, awareness leads to acceptance and understanding. By the time a person gets to a level of awareness that brings greater understanding, the person usually is disconnected from most people because it's hard for them to relate to this person. It's ironic, isn't it -- the more you understand and care about people, the less they like you? Almost everything is ironic.

One of the issues people ponder is why there is so much violence in today's world. Violence is connected to apathy, the very kind of apathy on this campus and throughout the western world. The violence everyone is so concerned about is being committed by people who don't care about their futures nor anyone else's. Violence is amplified apathy.

How much do you care? If you're not apathetically violent, are you violently apathetic? Apathy is the reason most Americans don't even know who the Speaker of the House of Representatives is. Most don't know who their representative in Congress is. The fact that you read the opinion page of a newspaper puts you in the political awareness elite. Frankly, that doesn't necessarily say as much about your awareness as it does about most other people's. The phrase "who cares?" is now a widespread excuse not to care. After all, caring, thinking, learning and development are difficult. It's simply easier for most of us to be stupid and allow ourselves to be led.

Some of us begin to develop awareness about those we allow to lead us. That's why there is so much political activism going on these days. A few people are trying to bolster the ideologies they have bought into and the people who try to be spokespeople for those ideologies. Few ever develop their own ideologies but instead go along with someone else's. Most people, though, only want what helps them avoid displeasure for a while. Most people never vote, never wonder why their gross pay is so much more than what they take home and never develop any sense of understanding of anything. They either wonder why they're unhappy or find something to divert their unhappiness.

Most are apathetic.

No wonder. It doesn't pay to be aware. Anyone who develops awareness of any depth can be difficult for others to predict and prejudge. When the apathetic majority can't pigeonhole a person, things get confusing. People are forced to think. This angers people. Upsetting the applecart scatters apples of wisdom. It also upsets the people who try to keep the apples neat, unbruised and in the cart.

In other words, don't think too much if you want to have friends these days. This age in which striving to be average is the best way to make sure you don't make anyone else look bad. As we all know, it's not cool to be different. It's certainly not cool if you're different because you're intelligent. This sounds crass, but it's not. It's not even cynical. It's not bitter. It is true, though.

Loving and learning to understand people through love is politically incorrect.