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Friday, November 25, 2005


The other day we had a discussion in the class about “Apathy” and one of my students sent me an email regarding the prevalent apathy among Iranian youth and how these youths with no “future” drive madly in the street to give their life some “meaning”. I thought the idea of sharing this with you might be a good idea! I sent the email to my American pal and here is his answer:

Your Students express themselves well: perhaps it is my own American experience, or perhaps it is my experience of how we are perceived in the World, but I think that the concept your Students were trying to express was the concept of apathy. It is such a small word, apathy, and the Dictionary defines it simply as "a lack of feeling or interest", but the reality is really quite different, isn't it? Apathy is a hard thing to live with, and an even harder thing to overcome. Rather than being a "lack" of feeling, those who are apathetic feel quite intensely: they feel as if nothing that they say or do really matters, so what differences do their actions or choices really make?
    What makes this problem worse is the reality that there are people who will use this apathy to their own advantage. Several of them are in power throughout the World right now, and the choices they make, and the results they produce, are created, at least in part, because the people that can see their true motivations feel powerless to stop them. Bush preys on the apathy of the American people: and the whole World suffers because of it. Other World Leaders like Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin may protest what Bush does, but in the end they support him, because they know that one day it will be them that needs help, and they feel helpless to deal with World situations themselves.
    Apathy certainly isn't unique to America: it is felt by everyone, everywhere, as your Students own papers show. Why shouldn't we drive fast on the roads? What we do in Life really matters, so why not feel alive for a few brief moments when we're behind the wheel? Once we're there, we do have some power: we could run this person or that person over and end their Life, couldn't we? Have you seen the advertisements for those ridiculously huge sport-utility vehicles, like the Lincoln Navigator, and even the Hummer, which started out as a Military-only vehicle and is now available for public purchase? Do you know who buys the majority of these vehicles in America? Unmarried, College-Educated, Professional Women! It is certainly different from the rugged, male/outdoorsman/hiker persona in the commercials: these Women usually live in large cities, and never go off-roading, or near any areas where this vehicle would be practical. They are usually used within the cities themselves, to go back and fourth to work, and to run errands. Part of this is certainly prestige: "look what I can afford!", but a lot of it also has to do with apathy. Professional Women (and Men) are usually successful because they have put their personal lives on hold while they go out to succeed in Business. Women have a harder time of it because they cannot (in their minds) have a family while they are brokering a large deal in a huge office. They feel a kind of apathy because they know they're missing something, and the makers of these things use that against them.
    But, to get back to your Student's papers, a lack of direction in Life is certainly not unique to Iran, it is felt here as well: by a great many people. This lack of direction leads to apathy, and that is a path that is hard to leave. It is hard to say what can be done to help someone put their feet on the right path again: for some, it is Religion, for others, it is a random event that gives their Lives meaning. Both of these are very rare occurrences, and in their absence, it is hard for another to help. Perhaps the only thing we can give to each other is our presence: the fact that they are not alone in their feeling may offer a person some hope? Perhaps then, within that group, a common goal or objective can be reached, it doesn't have to be something Earth-shattering, a small thing they can all do together to make their World better is all that is needed. Perhaps as a group, those Souls that are unheard can finally be heard, and empowering them to do that is something wonderful and rare in itself!
    Well, I have rambled on, haven't I? I hope that your Students will find what they need: it may come to them all on its own, and I Pray that it does.
Please be well!


Anonymous Farzad said...

He gave a very interesting explanation for this subject...indeed.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

sign up for Names for Peace! Please , you are essential. That is my small step to doing something that fights apathy.

Michael Kerr

7:22 AM  
Blogger Mike said...



7:23 AM  

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