“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
Does it seem like nobody cares, anymore? In his wonderfully succinct Ted Talk (7-min.), Dave Meslin redefines the word “apathy.” Most of us generalize and associate the word with an overall lack of care – about all kinds of things. The kind of apathy which we all have most in common is social apathy: the overall lack of caring about social issues in our communities. Sure, we’re pros when it comes to joining the mob in complaint about the unpleasant state of things (high taxes, low wages, police brutality, gun violence, political corruption, etc.). And, we’re even better at singing our “solutions” and how-to-fix-its on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But ask yourself: what do you actually end up doing?
For the majority, the answer is:
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
You double-tap those positivity memes. You like and retweet those bold headline-making solutions. You share the latest extreme examples of how things are way out of hand in hopes it will get enough likes to convince yourself that you’ve helped enable legitimate change. At least, that’s what you secretly hope for. “If a person likes this post I shared,” you subconsciously tell yourself, “I’ll have done my part.”
We’re all guilty of this because, as Meslin explains, society has always been increasingly built upon the idea that more money = a better life. Also, more money equals the power to affect real change (whether for good or bad). This paradigm prohibits non-profits, charities, and fair and effective government from thriving. How can they, amidst the expensive competitive field of advertising where the most money wins? We’ve been trained to be consumers – “having things is what makes you better!” we’re told. So, we devote more of our money and time in what we’re advertised, than what might actually make us better individually and as a community.
Here are 3 ways to becoming a person that actually gives a damn.
#1: PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
Got an opinion on how things ought to be? Think you know the right way to do XYZ? Well, put your action where your mouth is! Stop talking about it all and actually live your life by those so-called standards of yours. Do you believe in world peace, but suffer from road rage and a crabby attitude? Guess what – if you’ve got any hope of cultivating world peace, you’re going to have to change that sour attitude of yours first. It’s from the little things over which we have power to change in our lives, that big changes blossom.
#2: ACTIVELY LISTEN
Everyone’s going through far more than what you see on the outside. Guaranteed. These days, it seems harder than ever to communicate our agendas because everyone has theirs on their mind. So, next time someone chooses to open up to you, try this: actively listen. Listen without the itch to speak your mind. Often times no one wants to help each other because we’ve become accustomed to the feeling that no one gives a damn about us. We’re also biased to favor our own ideas. So, when you actually do listen, it’ll be a refreshing surprise. And, it just might awaken in others that feeling that lies at the heart of change: hope.
#3: ENCOURAGE OTHERS
While affecting change on a global level might be an aspiration of yours, try doing so first in your personal life. (Think: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”). If a friend or colleague confides in you that she’s got a dream to do XYZ, encourage it. If you’ve got a relative that’s having difficulty recovering from an injury or life-altering variable, encourage them to keep pushing onward. While this all sounds like fluffy advice prattled from a happy song in a Disney cartoon, the truth of it couldn’t be more real. Just ask yourself: “how would I feel if [person I care about] encouraged me to [do the thing I want to/do the thing I know I need to do]?” Now, go do that for someone you care about… without expectation of something in return.
The potential irony in this article isn’t lost on us. Here we are writing out a solution. But, we’re confident in knowing that we actually live by these words in our day-to-day lives. Overcoming apathy begins with each one of us, individually, within our own circles. So, that said, get out there and give a damn!