Friday, 24 May 2013

Apathy – The Greatest Trespass


Photo: Thanks Seismologik Intelligence for the image!

I have come to the conclusion that apathy, the lack of care towards something or someone else, is among the worst things that a human being can feel, or not feel (as the case may be) and that it is not only the most offensive, but among the most dangerous feelings human beings are capable of. It is certainly up there with the best of them, by which I mean anger and feelings of low self-esteem.

So why do I consider apathy to be more offensive than both love and hate. Most people will probably think that hating someone else is the worst emotion you can direct towards another person, because hatred hurts people. It is true, and I would be a fool to deny it, that hatred is far worse than love, for hatred by its very nature is more harmful than love. My criteria for the offensive, however, is based around the concept of respect. Respect is the valuing of another person, valuing them for what they are. Too often, this is read as being the same as liking or admiring another person, but I feel that it is important that we distinguish between these two conceptions of the term.

When you feel love or hate towards another person, those feelings, more often than not, involve a certain respect for the person in question. Though neither love nor hate necessitate respect, in order for either of those emotions to be felt in full, rather than as vestiges or phantoms, respect must be involved. True hate requires respect. That claim is bound to raise a few eyebrows. However, I think that it is completely true. “True hatred” is as emotional as “true love”, it is an emotion which can take root inside you and take over all of your thoughts. People often talk about “falling in love” but not “falling in hate” though the latter does not seem to be unreasonable to me.

Apathy requires no respect and, in truth, if respect is present, apathy is not. This is my core reason for viewing apathy as the worst of emotions.

I am never going to advocate that one live their lives motivated by hate, for that lifestyle is not a good one, nor does it do any favours for those you around you. However, I do think that it is far easier to understand, respect and endure someone who lives a life motivated by hate than it is to do the same with someone who simply does not care. As the picture suggests, apathy serves to enable great evils and small. Hatred, whilst it does lead to many evils, has the potential to fight it as well, though, naturally, love and compassion are far better weapons than hate. Apathy, however, can do nothing but accept. Whilst it does nothing to stand in the way of loving kindness, apathy does nothing to prevent evil, and it is evil that must be stopped.

Perhaps, next time you see a story on the news, or read something in the paper, you should think, how does that make me feel? Rather than providing the easy, rehearsed response “I don’t really care.”


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

-Edmund Burke

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