The Age Of Apathy


I don’t want to mince words, nor do I want to say things I’ll regret later. But above all I don’t want to leave this unsaid.

Probably like many of you, I have a friend who did not vote for Hillary Clinton, for the usual and tiresome list of reasons. He also claims that Trump “did not win on my account.” And he says, with a discouraging regularity, like so many of us, “whatever” and “it is what it is.”

Our language reveals the apathy that’s endemic to our society. We live in a world where, rather than stand up for what we believe we shrug it off with a whatever, vapidity masquerading as tolerance. A world where we don’t put in the energy and effort to make it what it should be, sighing that it is what it is to excuse our inaction.

In fact “it is what it is” because that’s what we do. We accept that “whatever” is good enough, is the best we can hope for, and then we justify our failure to make things right by saying that things are what they are, full stop. So almost half of us didn’t even bother to vote, chose not to vote against racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, threats of violence, abuse of the most vulnerable. Just stayed home, watched the election on TV, and when their abstention had allowed a despicable despot to get in line to run our country, I have no doubt that they absolved themselves of responsibility with one of those two odious phrases.

I can’t blame my friend for being who he is. I can only blame myself for thinking he was someone different. Same thing goes for my fellow citizens. I thought that decency still had the upper hand in our society. I was blind to a truth that I hoped never to see. The age of “whatever” is upon us, whatever is exactly what we’re going to get, and it’s arguably what we deserve. It is what it is until we change it.

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16 Comments on “The Age Of Apathy”

  1. John Rhoads Says:

    There was no easy choice. Each one was riddled with nastiness and ugliness. I too looked at each one from the lens of fear and found that I could base my entire judgement on data of past performance. Which one was more implicated in any form of physical harm or oppression? I had to come clean on the fact that “words” can be harmful and paint a picture but it is deeds that are more tangible and the picture is real. Although Trump paints an ugly picture, it is jut words until it becomes tangible. People say one thing and do something else but actions are written in stone. Time will tell if he has any worth beyond that which Clinton is well known for. I think a proper analogy would be: when throwing a pair loaded dice in a corrupt casino, should you keep throwing the same dice or try another pair? Since the casino is corrupt a new pair of dice may not make any difference but what other choice do you have? I also think think the biggest problems facing the US are in Capitalism, Finance, Foreign Policy and Corruption. Racism and Misogyny are definite problems but feel that those things hinge on economic problems. Fix the economic problem and those will get fixed in the process.

  2. LuAnne Wiles Says:

    Abra, there are many of us that stand with you on this. I know that I’m not in the “whatever” group and will never again relax believing everything will all work out.
    One of my daughter’s just turned 30. She voted for Hillary as did I. She spent the evening with a group of friends her age watching the election returns. When it started to look bad I told her I was sure it would be okay (I mean, who could believe such a thing would happen?) I took two over-the-counter sleeping pills and went to bed. I woke at 11 and she had texted this to me (before a declaration had been made)

    “As a collective group of young people, we stood together in a bar and vowed to stand for Muslims, the LBGTQ community, for immigrants, and for women. We vowed to claim our residency as Americans and not flee to Canada and to step even further out of our personal bubbles to fight for what we love and for what we know to be true. No matter the results, I hope you can find some comfort in my generation choosing to believe in hope, goodness and truth. This election will not define us as a nation.”

    Like you, Abra, I am in shock- now ridiculously angry at what has happened. But I think a movement rivaled only by the civil rights movement of the ’60’s is about to take place. I do not think the “whatevers” will dominate the horizon. Let’s stick together for what is good and right.

  3. Jim Berry, Colonel, USA (Retired) Says:

    Abra, you well know my long admiration for you but in this case, you are wrong and your thoughts and words aid the decline in the character of citizens willing to expose themselves to the scrutiny of the electorate.

    Among those you berate are, I believe, most, if not all, who have
    worn our Nation’s uniform. As I remember the trepidation with which
    I handled classified information, knowing well the penalties associated with a mistake, her carelessness in that regard “for her convenience,” that alone
    would have denied her my vote. Add to that her willingness to “sell” to Russia a portion of our nuclear fuel was intolerable!

    Add to that

  4. Liz Bier Says:

    Sorry, but the choice was easy. Hilliary was never perfect, but then again no one is.

    1- She spent an entire lifetime in service to this country.
    2- She was well versed in all the issues and intracasies of politics both in this country and abroad.
    3- She never incited racism.
    4- Believe me, she cared for every person in this country, more than Donald Trump will ever, even for a second.
    5- She stood as a shining example to all those who come from nothing and choose to work hard and achieve great things in life.
    6- She had the temperament and character for the highest position in the land. I’m sorry, but you can NEVER say that of Mr. Trump. Remember the axis hollywood tape – that was his true character revealed when no one was watching.
    7- He has demonstrated that he is a misogynist.
    8- He surrounded himself with people that have proved to be racist i.e. Mr. Bannon.

    And already he is tempering his “platform”. You must have heard he’s already talking about keeping certain aspects of Obamacare. If you thought he was really going to repeal it totally you have been duped. He’s not even in office yet and he’s going back on his promises. Good for those of us who didn’t vote for him. I, for one, believe that there was no choice but to vote for Hilliary Clinton. This is a sorry episode in our history.

  5. meditatewnc Says:

    No one should be berating anyone. This week has been an embarrassment to our nation, not because of who voted, or who won, but because of how we (American citizens) have chosen to react to it. On both sides. Deplorable only begins to describe it, and it just about a wash on who has better fit the description by their reactions.

    Yes. It *is* what it is. No, we don’t like it, but it happened. We can’t turn back the clock. We do have to deal with it and accept the outcome. That doesn’t mean we can’t prepare ourselves for change. Not by bitching and moaning (not pointing at anyone in particular here – it’s all over the board), and not by trying to overthrow the election.

    Trump isn’t even president yet, and we’ve already tried and convicted him. Just like many did to Obama eight years ago. It wasn’t fair then. It isn’t fair now. What makes us feel entitled to judge, after calling others idiots for doing the same thing? No, we don’t have to like him. No, we don’t have to support anything he does that goes against our values. Work for change. That is how to turn the tide. Not anarchy, not protesting the fact that people voted. Point out inequities >when they happen<. Don't assume the worst, because when we judge things that happened yet, we become our own worst enemy.

    I am liberal in my philosophy. Above that, I am American, and I believe in using the system work for me. I believe in freedom of speech and using it for constructive change. I believe in freedom of the press and using it for constructive change. I believe in supporting the Constitution and the protections it gives us, even if I don't always agree with the interpretation. I don't believe that protesting how people voted is doing anything but making the losing side look like what we used to call "poor sports," and telling the world that we don't respect the voting rights we are blessed with.

    I don't think rigging the electoral vote is any more ethical than being accused of rigging an election when it didn't happen. How is it any different? We don't have a national election. We have state elections, which determine the outcome at the national level. If that doesn't work, it should be changed, not railroaded. If we act like spoiled children, no one will take us seriously, nor should they. We have to be sensible.

    I am not justifying anything the president-elect has said or done in the past. That is past. He has a new job now, that honestly, I don't think he was expecting to get hired for. It is time for him to represent our country. All of us. I will judge him when I see something material to judge *as president*. And when I see an injustice, I will speak out. When I see unfairness, I will make my opinion known. When I see poor choices, I will recommend better ones. I can't speak out or judge something that hasn't even happened yet. If and when someone is oppressed by an action of our government, I will be right beside you fighting against it. But it hasn't happened. Whatever you are imagining in your mind may never happen. And it might. It has been three days, and so far, it's just us hurting each other. Beyond that, I can't assume the worst because my panicking brain is expecting the worst. That would be fighting myself – not Trump, not conservatives, not you, not crazed people wandering aimlessly in the streets trying to figure out what to be mad at. Just me.

    Don't react. Think and act with your brain, not your heart. Under all circumstances keep an even mind. Being organized is far more powerful than being passionate. Let's allow the grief to take its course and then be vigilant and aware. Adding to the anger and fear is not making this country or this world a better place. Because then we all lose.

    Abra, I love you, and I always have. In the 47 years I have known you, I have been proud, and maybe a little envious, of your strength and independence in so many ways. I cannot say I'm proud of how so many Democrats have chosen (yes, it's a choice) to react to this situation, but I honor your right to feel the way you do. I also honor and encourage your power to make a difference. And just as with the protesters, I only ask you, and all of the people with a stake in our future, to do it in a way that is fair, dignified and sensible that doesn't harm us in the long run.

  6. Shel is raising a heavenly toast in your honor dear Abra! Meanwhile, I am searching for a safety pin.

  7. Abra, I love and support you in this 100%. You are exactly right and I’m glad you spoke out. Thank you for having the courage to speak your mind and share your thoughts. I miss you!

  8. You are in the right place. No clean slate for this cancer on our country. Let your commitment fuel your sense of peace. Stick together for what is good and right. Right on!

  9. I do not have to “deal with him” at all. I would not sanction such a person regardless of how the process of his duping of the electorate took place. I am a person of conviction. Despite my progressive beliefs I accepted W and I actually voted for Ronald Reagan and I have always been a supporter of the peaceful transfer of power. I cannot support the transfer of power in our country to this man and what he unapologetically espoused. I stand by my convictions, not policies, not directions of a country, but by the basics of human dignity that cannot be disavowed.

  10. Sending a safety pin to you on the cyberwaves.

  11. Thank you for your courage. Life begins to end when we fail to stand up for what matters.

  12. Marigene Says:

    There was an easy choice and it didn’t include a misogynistic xenophobe that cares nothing for anyone but himself.

  13. Gail Says:

    Since both seem to have serious character flaws, I made the decision to cast my vote on policies only.

  14. Well, more than two months have passed since that election, and we are seeing that the Donald Trump of the election and of The Apprentice is still the Donald Trump of his upcoming presidency. Did anyone really and truly think he would change?

    If you read the international news and then follow the comments, people from around the world are laughing at our choice. Some commenters in Australia asked if Obama wanted to become their prime minister. People in the UK were asking the same thing.

    And the longer this plays out, the worse this man-child is looking. But I will grant that he is very clever. His tweets play to the uneducated white people who were in the majority of his supporters. They don’t like Hollywood and expect actors to give up their rights to full citizenry by not speaking out. “Shut up and just entertain us.” (Funny, though. These people don’t realize that art is very political.)

    They don’t like Mexicans or most other foreigners who they fear are taking their jobs. (Seriously? Automation is taking their jobs. Get a clue and get educated. Tech courses are easily available at every community college.) They don’t like those educated elites who think they’re “so hot” because they have degrees. (I even get this from a sibling who berates me for having a master’s degree. “You think you’re so intelligent because you went to college. But you’re not.”)

    They want Christianity as the One True Religion for the US. (But which Christian religion? They never specify, although they are sure it isn’t Catholicism or Mormonism.) They don’t want those Muslims coming here, even if they were born here, because God knows they all want to kill us. And look at their women, all covered up! (Never mind that they look exactly like the revered Catholic nuns of my youth.)

    They don’t believe in abortion, but at the same time, they berate poor mothers for being unable to support children. Their caring starts at the moment of conception and stops at the moment of birth. (“You shoulda used birth control.” “Yes, but my employer won’t provide it.” “Too bad. Keep your legs closed.”)

    Yes, Trump has thrown us for a loop. All of us. Except, of course, those who already have full bellies and warm homes and private planes. He never really expected to win. But like a dog who finally catches the car he’s chasing, he has no idea what to do with it.

    My only salvation comes from watching The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert every night. At least they give me reason to laugh about it all.

  15. We’re almost four months past the inauguration, and things are getting worse, not better. But this has moved many thousands… maybe millions… of us to work for something we can be proud of. My weekly political group wrote 276 postcards to legislators in just two hours last Friday. We keep breaking our previous records. We also phone, tweet, and send emails from their websites.

    Will we make a difference? I don’t know. But I can’t sit by idly and watch this happen. Complaining feels good, but it doesn’t do anything positive. Maybe the critical mass of all our voices will have some positive effect.

    I haven’t been this politically active since the 1970s. When my candidate didn’t win, I just shrugged my shoulders and carried on. But this is different. This is taking the nation into a dangerous new direction, where laws are flouted, where executive orders are signed like celebrity autographs, where civility is despised, where conspiracies are taken as fact, where respect for allies is devalued, where truth has no place, and where common decency is trampled upon. For what? For the self-aggrandizement of one ego-focused man-child.

    My father, lifelong Republican and a proud Air Force officer, must be spinning in his grave. I “served” as a Navy wife for many years, and I fly the flag on my home. I’m no political turncoat.

    But there comes a time when principle must trump party (pardon the pun). We must determine whether the “republic” comes first, or the “Republicans” come first. For me, the choice is clear and simple.

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