… is a pretty solid definition of apathy, on the surface level at least. If we dare (or, take the time) to dig a little deeper, however, we will find that apathy is just one symptom of something much larger and ominous – hopelessness.
What, then, steals hope? When basic survival is your default mode and your choices are limited to the particular life raft that drifts by, you are going to grab it and hold on for dear life, whether it is legal, moral, or even good for you, as long as it keeps you above water, for even little while, it is worth it. While struggling to stay afloat, all those other needs, over and above physiological, on Maslow’s Hierarchy – safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization (dreams) – are so far beyond your restricted reach, not to mention comprehension, they aren’t even on your radar.
And, let’s say you do, miraculously, make your way out of instinctual survival mode and are able to meet higher level needs, odds are, you will, habitually, continue to seek out the next life raft and make decisions based on your previous reality. Adding insult to injury, scientists are now realizing that the trauma you experienced during those tough times is passed on through your DNA to your offspring. This is what the “talking heads” mean when they speak of generational apathetic behaviors.
This, in a nutshell, is hopelessness!
As a society, we have tried all of the negative options, without success – blaming, judging, shaming, and cutting off resources. Which, thereby, leads us to the million-dollar question --- how can we help: those of us who recognize apathy, and its big brother, hopelessness, as systemic problems, not simply, bad attitudes or pure laziness? We can’t tell people what to do. We can’t, and, don’t want to, rush in to “fix” stuff. And, we certainly cannot legislate an answer. I think it is safe to say that many well intentioned folks have tried all of the above and on some level failed.
I believe that kindness, empathy, and positive expectations lay at the very foundation of any long-term solution. Let’s go back to Maslow’s Hierarchy. When someone feels safe and loved for a sustained period, while being held accountable for negative behavior, they are able to see that next step up, to esteem or self-respect, pretty clearly, and from there, aspirations and dreams are only a small hop away.
Therefore, I propose that we can solve this (societal) problem from within a circle of supportive community --- one person, one life-changing moment at a time.
This is a reminder to myself (particularly) - to live authentically, with generosity, patience, and respect, as well as a willingness to be awestruck by incremental transformation, as my default mode; especially, when I feel my frustration levels climbing through the roof.
Because, in actuality, none of us really knows which endeavor, which moment of compassion, will be the one that breaks through all the, “I don’t know-s and I don’t care-s,” to makes the difference - to be that ah-ha moment.
We are still seeking a few items as we jump into Spring mode (despite the fresh snow this past Friday) and spend more time outside. If you have any of these items and would be willing to donate them, please get in touch.
I am also including this graphic to put our financial realities in perspective as we begin the process of building the 19/20 budget: