We’re a generation of apathy. Not because we don’t care about our planet. We usually don’t, and not because we don’t care about the people. Again we often don’t.
We’re numb. Frozen inside.
We don’t care how our brother’s life is going. Or the pain old age has bestowed on our parents, or in some cases how we are looked upon. I’m not talking about crime, deforestation or discrimination here. That problem, in fact, looks like spacewalk compared to what we face today even as you read this. Are we whole? Or are we centered in our little worlds so much that everything else has ceased to matter?
If you don’t see it, let’s go back a little while. There was a time when GPS and cell phones didn’t exist. Letters may be, but they reached slow and were a lot vague on details. Landline phones were expensive and each call required persistence and a loud voice. How did our parents and grandparents know the exact time and place to pick up a visiting relative in large places and heavy crowds? People always improvised while traveling, we’re no different.
We always decide to check out a shoe store or try a new smartphone or try a new restraint on our way out. They’d pick up housewarming gifts, fruits and vegetables or buy a new jacket or try another exit. But they always found the one looking for them. Always knew where to wait, where to go or where to stay with little or no correspondence. Why are we so dependent then?
Ever spent a day without a gadget?
It’s insanely liberating in today’s day and age but at first, you feel lost, even in the places you frequent every day. We can’t reach each other without a landmark on the GPS, an active phone call and a prompt to raise our hands so we can be spotted among the crowd.
This isn’t ESP we’re talking about. We’ve lost our intuition due to over-reliance on easier, surer looking choices. But Even then it could have survived through our ability to connect and care.
It has nothing to do with our genes or evolution either as some might argue. Some of our own elders have lost their ability to stay calm, to feel. They’ve developed defenses against compassion and reason itself. There was a time when mothers could sense trouble on their children miles and days away. Young girls had the inner intuition to figure out good people and choices from the bad.
A wide majority of modern children have suffered at home, sudden outbursts of anger, scathing and humiliating remarks that drive them insane. And more than a few girls have run into trouble for staring into tiny screens for too long or too much. In fact, there are apps that let you make mistakes over and over until you stumble into the right choice.
What made us so numb?
We can’t blame media exposure. It is the only thing that keeps us sane anymore. We don’t feel a problem is serious until it’s shown in the news. We scramble to our favorite shows so we can see our favorite characters again. They are wretched sometimes, sometimes overbearing and almost always as human as us.
We see their pains and tribulations as our own, we laugh at their funny incidents as if we were standing in them, we scream and are in shock when something terrible happens to them, we hope for a happy and beautiful ending. And when it ends, we feel sad that a part of our lives has been taken away from us.
Is it not true, the people who make our lives what it is are virtual strangers to us? Weve lost the feeling of pushing pulling and grunting in the sun. We’ve lost the childish joy of the rain and wind on our faces. But its not technology or entertainment that causes this. Its us.
We’ve turned cowards essentially.
We found ease under a blanket. Broke joint families to nuclear families and those families to individuals who drift like electrons in the limitless universe. Each feeling sufficient, good on our own because there is less to manage, even though we barely choose to manage most of it sometimes. We had technology as our cover, to cover long distance. We’ve used it over short distances so much were distant again, even in the same room.
A mother won’t see her child crying for help today in their broken heart or sinking career or just low self-esteem. She’ll be busy sending the pictures of her old home town and how great and generous her parents were, how lovely the times past were and how wretched the times and people are now.
A brother won’t feel her sister’s tribulations and might not even know what’s going on in her life. His own feelings about his life and problems have driven him into a world of expressive music, famous writings and emotionally ensnaring television shows. Maybe his career, dignity or life are on the line but its not real to him until he feels it for himself. And he cant.
Famous writers and philosophers have talked about the subject of courage. “Courage is not the absence of fear, its is the acknowledgement and mastery of fear.” What is the opposite of courage then?
We need confirmation our careers are secure, even though market, recessions and just sheer misfortune can make a play on it. We need confirmation that our friends, loves and, families are there forever, even though time turns even the tallest mountains to dust, let alone people and commitments.
When all else fails, we build our own world. People who stand alone can never be betrayed. But that’s not really true, is it? We’ve deluded ourselves forever that we’re good people in bad circumstances that are eventually going to change. We’re special snowflakes and greatness of the future, but we’re not. We’re people. As un-special as any other person if we see any that is.0
We’ve failed ourselves with our habits and our thinking, so beauty and greatness will never come. What happens next? We escape.
We’re Julius Caesar, we’re Edmond Dantes, we’re Rick, Dolores, Eleven and, Tyrion. Superheroes and handicapped underdogs. Troubled rock stars or high functioning sociopaths. We’re everything but ourselves.
Try coming back to the real world. Even for a minute. Open your heart to someone. It will take courage for most, but some will make it ridiculously easy. I promise there’ll be distrust, awkwardness even pain. But do it anyway today. Tell me that didn’t feel good.