The Dangers of Apathy in Students and Voters

With Thanksgiving over and dead week fast approaching, it is easy to stop caring about school. As a soon-to-be-graduate, it is easy to give up on the whole degree, thinking, “Will this last essay affect my future career?” The temptation towards apathy is not confined to students. Skiers and snowboarders alike are indifferent about the lack of snow, joking about global warming as they start their carbon dioxide-puking four-wheel-drive vehicles. Throughout the campaigns and after the election, the nation as a whole vibrated with renowned voicelessness; a lack of hope. Apathy can be a justification for giving up: students give up on homework and citizens give up on their government. With the clock winding down on the semester, a renewed effort must be made to instill a sense of purpose and to preserve hope.  

Apathy relies on a feeling of impending doom. Students become apathetic when they feel like no matter how hard they try in a class, they will not succeed. A nation becomes apathetic when they feel that their government will always fail to represent their values. This bleak message of hopelessness fueled the campaign of the president-elect. Upon his victory, a similar wave of apathy struck his once hopeful opponents. By assuming there is a lack of hope, one surrenders their power. Believing in a hopeful future, believing that one’s efforts could construct a future in which they would like to live, is imperative to conquering apathy, political or otherwise.

Effort, or an interest in trying, will remedy ambiguity. In democracy, effort is particularly vital. In order for a politicians to accurately represent the people, the will of the people must be known. Without the effort of the people, the politicians will become their own masters, obeying their own interests. To quote Plato, “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” If one feels apathetic about the state of the country, they must join in the chaos of rallies, lobbying and informing legislators about important issues. The citizens of a democratic country are the checks and balances of its government.

Isolation also increases the feeling of apathy. Inversely, collaboration and unity have the capability to re-instill hope and faith. If a student and all their friends are failing a class and everyone is trying as hard as they can, it would be easy to take on an indignant frustration and stop caring.  Knowing that other students thrive in the class, enjoy the subject and understand how to succeed with a certain teacher will change one’s perceptions of possible success. If the students joined forces, everyone might pass the class. Politicians around the country have been calling for unity and collaboration since the election for the same reason; mutual success through unity. Through collaboration and understanding, new possibilities are created that restore faith in the larger picture.

Longevity of effort is crucial for combatting apathy. Cramming for a test does not help with long-term intelligence. A gradual and sustained effort towards acquiring knowledge is most impactful (also less painful) when it comes to truly educating oneself. These short spurts of effort could be compared to the political protests after the presidential election. The protests may seem like a grand display of effort, but their force and frustration is not sustainable. Longevity is more important than intensity when it comes to true effort. Long-term political interest, like long-term academic goals, will diminish the power of apathy.

Everyone joked about voting for the lesser of two evils. Everyone has indignantly declared they were going to fail all their classes. At some point, everyone comes to the conclusion that they are powerless against the greater forces. Exactly at this moment, however, another option becomes available: to hope against all odds. In politics and in life, apathy is dangerous as a justification to stop trying. Trying is scary. Being hopeful is scary. But caring and hoping and believing are less scary than surrendering to apathy. Through collaboration and effort, apathy is rendered benign.