When we’re faced with a constant and unrelenting barrage of pain and suffering and uncertainty and big, enormous problems for which there is never an easy or comforting solution, it’s not uncommon to begin to feel apathetic.
That apathy mostly manifests itself as disbelief and disregard.
In the face of crisis, and without sensing that they’re gaining any traction toward a solution, people begin to drop off. They devise conspiracy theories and alternative beliefs. They come up with every fathomable reason to dismiss someone else’s truth, replacing it with a narrative that is a bit less harsh, and a lot easier on their psyche.
The truth is that when we are overloaded with so much negativity, we can all start to become used to its presence. It seems to neutralize itself and normalize as a steady constant that we are vaguely aware of but still not immediately alarmed by.
Maybe you have felt this lately.
Maybe you will feel this as the weeks and months peel on.
If you do, you need to know that apathy is really a response to overwhelm, and overwhelm is understandable — but the apathy can’t be.
It’s usually not that you don’t care about what’s happening in the world around you, it’s usually not that you’re indifferent to other people’s suffering, but that eventually, you hit your saturation point for your own discomfort, and from there, you set up mental walls that help you regain a sense of peace.
This is, ultimately, just a coping mechanism.
What you have to learn is how to strike a balance: how to at once keep your heart and mind open while not becoming completely consumed and overwhelmed.
When you first start to become aware of the fault lines within society, your instinct can be to insist that they aren’t so bad, until, of course, you recognize that they are and ultimately feel helpless. You pour every ounce of your already waning mental and emotional energy into devising and acting on a solution only to realize that this is so much bigger than you, than me, than any of us — it would make the most sense just to give up.
Except it doesn’t.
If you ever start to feel apathetic about what is happening in the world, please know, you are not too small to have made a difference. We are not irredeemable. Change that sticks is slow, and steady, and takes time. You do not have to be sidelined by suffering to still acknowledge it exists.
And I hope that you do.
I hope that you aren’t lulled back to sleep by the next trend, the next problem, the next crisis.
I hope that you keep your feet on the ground, which is far more important than keeping your finger on the pulse of social media, appearing to be one way without translating it into something real.
I hope that you never deplete yourself to the point that you aren’t capable of feeling empathy, of imagining how deeply injustices can run, how our very foundations must shift if we have any hope of healing.
I hope that you know you are not always at the center of it, but you can always contribute, you can always be a piece of the force that moves us all forward.
And that momentum? It’s important.
Don’t let yourself become worn out and give up.
It is hard to keep our eyes open.
It is far harder not to.