February 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 7

Editorial – Apathy

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of leaveless trees in a snow covered parkOne of the strongest phrases Christ spoke during his public ministry was the phrase, "I would rather you hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth". Now these words were not spoken against the adulterer or the tax collector, but against the individuals who had become indifferent to the teachings of God. That word, "lukewarm", spoken by Christ could be translated into the word apathy in our culture. Anyone who has ever done any marriage counseling knows that when a husband or wife after many years of marriage become indifferent to each other or as we say are apathetic to each other, that marriage eventually suffers.

If you read the life of Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, you might recall he mentions that he knew his drive for world domination would succeed because of the apathy of the German people. They were not concerned about his rantings and ravings, they were not concerned about all of the various military techniques he was teaching privately in Germany, all those people were concerned about was their family, their jobs and their local obligations. That was common throughout the German nation. As a result of the Germans apathy, Hitler created a devastating war machine And that, in turn, contributed to the loss of millions of people, not only in Germany, but throughout the world.

When you analyze history, it has a way of repeating itself. Is it ever possible to think that now that we are engaged in this war against terrorism, that we know is going to spread all throughout the world and not just the Middle East, that we are as indifferent to terrorism as the German people were indifferent to Nazism? George Santayna has a wonderful line, "those who don't learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to commit them in the future". These words are a reminder to us that we cannot constantly sit back and let personal social obligations be done by somebody else. We have an obligation before we die to render to Caesar that which is Caesar's and to render to God that which is God's. In other words, we have to help and improve our country and our Church by the God given talents God have given to each one of us. There is a beautiful passage in an essay written by Eli Weisel speaking about the dangers of apathy. And he wrote this beautiful passage after the second world war. His whole family had been sent to concentration camps to die in a brutal fashion. His friends and neighbors were likewise sent to these same concentration camps. He wrote a line that should cause us to pay attention he said, AI get very mad with God for what happened to my family, my friends and my neighbors and my country. But what I have learned in recent years is that the opposite of love is not hatred, it is apathy. The opposite of hunger is not poverty, it is indifference. The opposition of education is not ignorance, it is apathy. And I get so provoked at some any people who still think they can sit back in the world and be indifferent to the wants and needs of others."

History has proven over the centuries about what apathy has done to various civilizations and countries. Apathy is a kind of emotional, sociological and political virus that in a termite-like way corrupts traditional values and traditional convictions. Apathy in many civilizations is more deadly than some of the virus' those countries have sustained. Each one of us will stand before God to give an account of our lives. Pray God that we will never have to explain to him why we were apathetic on earth.