Apathy & Empathy; Indifference & Hope

The title to this discussion is a little bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it? Kind of like, which of these things just doesn’t belong. lol And what is it doing on a website for Empaths, but that should also be obvious. If you turn empathy into the face side of a coin and flip it over, you end up with apathy. So lets look into this deeper, to see that its not evil that one battles with empathy, but apathy and indifference.

Have you ever wondered why you do what you do, as an Empath? You feel someone in pain and you are drawn to them like a moth to a flame. And you offer your support for a brief moment in the hopes that it will help support them, validate them, give them hope, allow them to feel respected as a human being, and if only for a small amount of time, lift them out of their doldrums.

Good and Evil are what results from such things as Empathy and Apathy. When one is to indifferent to care what happens they let go the reigns of hope and allow anyone to do what they want, despite the outcome. When one cares enough to open themselves to others and share in their pain, one opens the door to respect and hope for both people involved in the exchange. And that hope has a ripple effect, often times.

Apathy is like a virus that infests a human heart, mind and spirit when they decide to stop fighting and accept things as they are. We do this to our environment and our planet. We do this to the animals, wild and domesticated, that live among us. And we do this to ourselves.

There is this great little tale within the story of Peter Pan that says that when anyone around the world says ‘I don’t believe in fairies!’, a fairy dies. And while that maybe part of a larger fable, it rings true here. When one lets their imaginations die, they let hope die. And in this fable, hope is manifested in the form of a fairy.

As it is in the fable, so is it true in the real world. When people stop dreaming, hoping, and feeling toward others in an understanding capacity, or begin set themselves apart from others because of exterior differences, apathy is given a great big welcome sign saying ‘Come on in and sit down.’ And then, guess what? It does. *play shocking music here*

I, personally, am willing to work with anyone on any issue, but I walk by some as well. It doesn’t mean I don’t stop to offer help or would not offer help if they called out to me. It does not mean I do not care for them, can empathize with them, and do not wish them well. But some people simply aren’t ready for help, mine or otherwise, and turn away from it when offered. And there are other people out there in the world who want help and can utilize it when its offered, for all its worth.

I use the metaphor of the abused woman often in my writings, if you’ve followed them at any length. Some are so in need of help that they readily take it when it is offered and try to start over again. Some refuse help because they are still caught up in the ‘I can change him’ syndrome and can not see themselves drowning. This is the type of thing I am speaking of. Apathy towards themselves while focusing on someone else who is only in it to use them.

And whether apathy is directed inwardly through things like ‘I don’t matter’ or ‘the world wouldn’t miss me if I were gone’ or ‘no body loves me’, or it is directed outwardly ‘who cares about the homeless’ or ‘who gives a crap about the mentally ill’ or ‘who cares about anyone who doesn’t care about me or fit into my social group’, its all the same at its core. The only difference is how it is expressed. One can lead to feeling lost and lonely, depression, a sense of drowning, and suicide attempts while the other can lead to snobbery, narcissism, and inequality based on superficial things like race, gender, size, sexual orientation, and so on. And the list can go on forever based on everyone’s personal prejudices.

Empathy is expressed, when it is healthy, toward yourself and others. It offers hope and engenders respect, despite differences. It has the ability to uplift the people who are in need and also those who are helping. It is, in its purest form, a gift of sharing, loving, and openness that can not be torn down by things like apathy and indifference.

But it is also an ideal, which most people strive for at one level or another. And in not being able to achieve that perfection, they tend to give up or lose hope. When all that can ever be asked of one single person is what they are willing to give. The perfection lays within the imperfection, in that when one gives, even if it is seldom done, it is beautiful, real, and tangible for both the giver and the receiver. Even if its just a nod of good morning to a random stranger, it validates them and their existence. It brightens their day, which in turn will brighten other people’s day, as well.

That’s the greatest gift of Empathy, that it doesn’t matter how large or small the contribution is, as long as your willing to give a little bit of yourself, your time, your money or whatever you choose to apply it to. Because only you know how much your time is worth to you. Only you know how long it took to earn that money. And only you can place a value on you.

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~ by Misuchi Sakurai on August 26, 2009.

2 Responses to “Apathy & Empathy; Indifference & Hope”

  1. Great post! I recently wrote an article on this same topic. Hopefully it is something you can relate to. http://fatesjoke.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/popular-apathy-the-role-of-empathy-in-the-modern-mindset/

  2. I related to the comments you made very well. I feel like i’ve become an apathetic person and I didn’t use to be. I say things like I don’t matter and people won’t miss me and things like that. I have had Lyme disease for 4 years and since that time I have lost hope. I have no emotional energy anymore as it has all been expended through discouragement of things not changing. I also have an emotionally abusive sister and i’ve let her walk all over me for so long that I can’t fight back anymore and any time I do I get squashed like a bug. I get so discouraged by the way my sister treats my mom and me but I feel like I can’t change it anymore. I wish that I was braver to stick up for my mom and myself. She feels like she can do or say whatever she wants. I do feel like I use to have empathic abilities but my apathy has killed it. i’ve ignored and suppressed it so much that I don’t even know what to feel anymore. I still care but from a distance. I’m not even sure if the comments I said even relate to the topic but I just felt like saying them.

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