Apathy

OPINION: Apathy Isn’t Boring; It’s Encouraged

I’m tired of waking up on the floor.
The sleep is never satisfying. My back and neck are stiff for hours. My mind still racing from the night before. My head is heavy from my own abuse. I feel defeated, and it never really goes away.

“I’ll take a coffee. Black. One sugar to mask the carmel tar taste.”

Even on the morning after my own marathon of disappointments and poor decision making, I still offer some level of humour to a stranger at a drive-thru who probably thinks I’m much less charming than I’m attempting to be. I sit there in my car, transfixed on the tail lights of the vehicle braked in front of me. The space heater humming its mechanical morning song, as July Talk lyrics whisper in the background. I peer through the overcast morning mist thinking about her, about my own vulnerability, and about why it feels so frustrating to not know how to make myself any better.
It’s seven a.m. and I am slurping back my awful beverage and scanning my social media newsfeed. Struggling to find a middle ground between the roles of unmotivated young person and political watchdog, I start to wonder: why I bother? I mean, I have no house, I have no family of my own, and my legacy will likely be a bittersweet mix of arguing for social change, singing about social change, and wishing for social change — without ever really making any direct change at all. I haven’t housed anyone I have advocated for. Matter of fact, people are poorer now than when I started… and so am I.
Scrolling through my newsfeed I realise some of my friends are still drunk. I don’t begrudge their good times to them. I’ve been there. I see that someone is on their way to a wedding a few hours away. Must be nice. I wonder what my wedding will look like. After all, my fortune cookie was quite clear that romance is in my future. Speaking of which, thank the higher powers that I was wise enough to hit up that buffet before I ventured downtown last night. It definitely made my evening a little more manageable with food in my stomach.
I keep scrolling.
Hey did you know that we are something like fourteen billion dollars in national debt? Over one hundred people just died of opioid overdoses in British Columbia last month alone. Over one hundred people have crossed the Manitoba border from the United States since the year began. Crazy. I wonder what’s being done to help these people? After all, with fourteen billion dollars in national debt (and climbing), we must have invested in a contingency plan, right?
No? Oh… my bad.
I’m sipping my coffee, crust from my eyelids still stuck to my face. I’m starting to understand why my generation has trouble feeling inspired. I used to think apathy was an illness. It’s not. It’s a coping mechanism.

“I used to think apathy was an illness. It’s not. It’s a coping mechanism.”

I’m not feeling well. I haven’t quite stumbled down my yellow brick road just yet. Still hanging with Alice in the rabbit hole. On paper, I am a leader. In life, I am an underachiever who doesn’t have a clear path. I can’t afford to cripple myself with the costs associated with higher education, the benefits of my youth are depleting, and finding a career with a living wage attached is merely a dream for many people just like myself. There was a time when any of these singular issues were a reason to wake up. Some type of call to action. Today they are a stark reminder that this whole process might just be designed to fail.

“Today they are a stark reminder that this whole process might just be designed to fail.”

What I find so appalling about many of these get-out-the-vote campaigns (not all), is that they encourage you to act without thinking. They encourage you to vote for the lesser of two evils instead of asking why we have to accept corruption as a party plank? Why are all of our utopian concepts so far out of reach? Why is the idea that we can all be better off working together a pipe dream?
I think I need another coffee. Maybe a donut this time.
I live in a time where if I disclose that I suffer from depression, I could be denied cross-border access. I live in a time where if I inherit or subscribe to a political preference or religious ideology that is unpopular amongst my neighbours or peers, I may be made to feel unwelcome, no matter how peaceful my intentions might be. I live in an era where we pit groups of homeless veterans against Syrian refugees to justify helping neither. I live in a time where the leader of a military superpower live tweets a sketch comedy show and ignores that a transgendered kid might not be safe using a bathroom at their school.

 “I live in a time where we pit groups of homeless veterans against Syrian refugees to justify helping neither.”

I live in a point in time where I might have an easier time purchasing a painkiller on the street than from a pharmacy. I live in a time where free and unbiased information is considered the enemy of the state, amd where my Parliamentary question period is often reduced to toxic waste. Sound-bite littered popcorn politics, dripping with personal agendas, arguing for political points and shaping meaningless narratives that often distract us from the fact that people are hurting, misrepresented, and struggling… but they don’t need to be.
I’m not insinuating that politicians are inherently bad. I’m one myself. I’m just one who hates the connotations that the label carries. I signed up to make a difference, and I am sure many believe that is exactly what I try to do — even the ones who disagree with me. I truly believe that most people who enter public service, initially, do so for the right reasons. Sometimes, we just get lost along the way.

“I truly believe that most people who enter public service, initially, do so for the right reasons. Sometimes, we just get lost along the way.”

That said, so many of the arguments I have made are not about changes I can make in my local council chambers. They are about changes that no one individual person can make. They are about a culture of complete dissatisfaction and disassociation; we speak in hyperbole. We selfishly juxtapose and culturally misappropriate someone else’s issues to help add weight to our own. In doing so, we nurture the winter of our discontent, and the disconnect is perpetuated.
It is too hot in this car. I think I need a Zantac.
As I sit here feeling sorry for myself, I need a quick introspective reminder that it is okay to be selfish and feel disconnected sometimes. My issues are immaterial to a world that expects me to pull up my pants, tuck in my shirt, and put on my work boots.
My bed is calling my name. It’s always there for me. Speaking frankly, it is easier to lie there listening to the Rural Alberta Advantage sing songs about ‘two lovers’ and ‘Beacon Hill’ than it really is to address the problem. In all of our forward thinking and philosophical rhetoric, we haven’t really found the solutions to much larger problems.
Our remedies are making us sick. So much of the food we consume is poison. Dementia is a clear and present health risk. We have no broadly scoped poverty action plan, and as our population shrinks, the costs of administering the very services meant to treat our challenges will increase in a way that will make them unsustainable.
Maybe I should buy another donut. Eating my feelings makes more sense to me this morning.

“After all, I am apathetic too.”

It’s easier to complain, or to bandaid, than to propose solutions. As much as we pretend “it’s okay not to be okay,” truthfully, many of us have come to accept that certain problems are just too big to solve, and certain systems are too big to fail. But wait… that’s not true — is it?
My greatest enemy might be myself, but that is how the system was designed. If I feel as though the hurdles are too vast and the obstacles are just too monumental to overcome, maybe I will just be quiet and not disrupt the circus.
In the meantime, I wonder if I will go out tonight. I wonder if she will be there? Judge me if you will, but it sure beats lying in bed waiting for the world to change.
You will have to excuse my pessimism. It’s only momentary I assure you.
Every day I swallow these feelings of doubt that are reinforced by a society that teaches us to be quiet, but somehow it never stops me from singing my song anyways. I might not be the change I wish to see just yet, but I guess I believe one day I just might be. I just wish I didn’t feel like my sickness is preventing me from being the warrior I think I am destined to be. Then again, maybe that’s what makes me that ‘warrior.’ After all, I’m still singing, aren’t I?
Looks like I won another free coffee. Today might be a good day after all.
Feature Image via Flickr, available under a Creative Commons license 2.0.
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One thought on “OPINION: Apathy Isn’t Boring; It’s Encouraged

  1. This is article is amusing as it masquerades as a substantive analysis of political apathy, but then turns out to be just the author being narcisstic and angsty, with flickers of self-promotion.

    A pretty lousy opinion piece, as the reader leaves with a great awareness of the author’s opinion of him/herself but not really much on apathy

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