Editor, the Current:
RE: “Generation of Apathy” editorial in the March 25th issue: I found your editorial on the proposals for free community college education contrasted with your analysis of students’ apparent “apathy”, insightful and right-on! There certainly is a morass of apathy among many (or, most?) young college students these days: not only here at A.R.C., but at most institutions of higher-learning in my view.
We have, as a society, gotten more lax about our civic responsibilities and developed a sense of entitlement: to food, shelter, recreation/entertainment, and—now—healthcare and a college education. This collective attitude (while still not shared by many in society, of course) has been fostered by the media (including advertising), certain political parties (“getting ‘X’ is a ‘right’”), and popular entertainment (music, movies, etc.) for many decades now. Is it any wonder that youth today acquire those values that they have been exposed-to while growing-up in a media-saturated, “if-it-feels-good-do-it” society such as ours?
But I would like to note that, while the editorial accurately diagnosed the problem, it only stated what young people (and the rest of adults) should do to address the problem. May I suggest that the suggested approaches (being better students, limiting our media/Facebook time, working to improve our lives, etc.) are good, but assume there is an underlying motivation to do so?
Any psychologist would tell you that the motives for doing something must be dealt with to adequately deal-with and ultimately change human behavior. Failing to do so only deals with the symptoms, not underlying causes.
Naturally, sociologists and other “analysts of the human condition” have widely-varying opinions for the causes of this or any other condition in society, but may I suggest one that seems to be overlooked often in the debate in the public square? I refer to the spiritual aspect of human nature…the widely-recognized human need for connectedness and meaning on a deep, soul-based level. This aspect to our natures is what determines our activity, motivation, and sense of worth and significance.
We need to remember that our motives, choices, and actions have consequences! We in the Western world seemed to have bought-into the post-modernist delusion that we can lower our moral and ethical standards and abandon any sense of spiritual perspective, and it will have little or no effect on the quality of our spiritual, moral, and social character as individuals or as a society.
We have only to look around at the obvious moral decay of our society, with its gang-violence, school shootings, and youth suicides, to see that we have “lost our soul” on a very real, basic level. This condition, I believe, along with the media-saturation of our modern world, has led to a dulling of the human spirit, which is manifested by apathy and its evil twin, self-indulgence.
If we as individuals don’t take the personal responsibility to monitor and renew ourselves on the spiritual level, such conditions will only perpetuate. Then apathy won’t be our biggest problem: a total moral collapse and chaos in society will result. Let it not be said of our great country, and its precious youth, that they—in the famous words of an ancient writer–“sowed to the wind, and reaped the whirlwind”! Let’s aspire to be once again “touched by the better angels of our nature”, as Abraham Lincoln so wisely stated.
–James Dillion; A.R.C. student