Andrew Hopkins is a second-year social studies education major and writes “Bread and Roses” for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
One of the biggest issues facing today's world is the lack of people who care.
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines apathy as a “lack of interest and concern,” and it is something I have been surrounded by my entire life. In schooling, I’ve noticed people around me who simply did not and still do not care about the larger picture of what is going on around them. I can admit I have been guilty of this in the past as well.
It wasn't until the pandemic hit I began to really step back and look at what was going on in the world. It was only then I realized my careless nature towards what was going on in my town with issues, such as homelessness or drug abuse, or even larger problems worldwide. I began to read and learn about what was happening around me, and that has helped drive my aims and ambitions coming into college, with the knowledge that I want to build a better world.
When asked about an issue, many may have an opinion about the topic, but how many people are out there taking action? Would we rather sit back and watch “Thursday Night Football” or “Grey's Anatomy” than spend our time trying to make the world more sustainable? There are days when the last thing I want to do is give a speech in front of a crowd or present a plan for how the surrounding community can be improved.
However, when I ask myself the question, “If not me, then who? If not now, when?" I fail to falter in my quest to improve the communities I am a part of.
There are dozens of modern examples of apathetic behavior we see today, but one is the current persecution of Uyghur people by the Chinese government.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Almost one million Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group in China, were imprisoned by the Chinese government, and those who have not been, are subjected to intense surveillance, religious restrictions, forced labor and forced sterilizations. When discussing this event with a friend of mine last year, she was completely unaware, and although I explained what was going on, she simply could not be bothered to care about what was happening to these individuals.
If we refuse to care or speak out against injustices in our world, then evil will always win. Albert Einstein reiterates this exact point when he stated “The world won't be destroyed by those that do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
Most times in discussion when this topic is brought up, people I have interacted with may simply not know anything about what is going on and they seem like they don't want to take the time to educate themselves to enact a call to action. There are certainly many issues and events that are prevalent and ongoing in today's world, and it can be hard to stay informed and up to date on everything going on. This is not an excuse to give up caring about what is happening in our communities or throughout the world.
It is imperative now more than ever that we mobilize and begin to speak up for what we care about, no matter what that is.
Empathy is required in place of apathetic behavior, in order for good to occur in the world and positive change to manifest. The actions of Nicholas Winton are a perfect example of this behavior, with him saving 669 children, most of them Jewish, from the tyranny of the Holocaust.
We need to use our voices to tell the stories and speak up for those who cannot or will not, for fear of persecution. Problems that we choose to ignore or not care about today, can come to affect us as individuals in the future.
A famous poem written by Martin Niemoller reflects this; “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. ” This poem is a perfect example of apathetic behavior, but it is also a warning to us still today, that if we do not protect those who are persecuted, not only may people in our lives and communities suffer, but oppression may come to affect us one day.
Nothing turns me off toward a person more than a person who doesn’t take action. I encourage you to get out there and use your voice. Posting infographics and news articles on Instagram and Snapchat stories is simply not enough, people need to get involved with clubs, organizations and movements for what they believe in.
It is time to take a stand against the evils of the world, to be informed about what is going on within our external factors. We must have the confidence and will to be a leader and push for the change we want to see.
The time for apathetic behavior and slacktivism are over, people need to start speaking out and caring for what they believe in, so I encourage all of you to get out there, whatever it is you are passionate or interested in to get involved, in any way you can, regardless of your political affiliation or stance on certain issues.
Not only will your participation safeguard society, but it will better you as an individual.
Contact Andy Hopkins with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.