There is a growing epidemic happening right now. One that is not restricted to a single country’s borders but rather it is a global phenomenon that is directly affecting people of all demographics. No matter what age, race, or social status you are in, traces of it can be seen throughout every group in society. Perhaps the worst thing about it is that it is extremely silent, literally. I am talking about apathy.
The textbook definition of apathy is an “absence or suppression of passion, emotion , or excitement.” Basically it means being indifferent about something.
This can take shape in many different forms. It can just be not having your own option on a topic or even not feeling the need to do something. These simple explanations of apathy are very harmless sounding and you might say that it is not worth addressing as an issue. But when you look at the the role it plays in a larger setting like politics or even life itself, it becomes more apparent that it can be extremely harmful.
Apathy can the be reason why one person is elected the President of the United States over another. It can be the reason why in a world where millions of people are severely malnourished or impoverished, there is little collective effort being made to help remedy it. Apathy can even be the reason why someone decides to stop trying and just end their life the next chance they get.
Ahmed Khaled Towfik depicts a scenario of a future in his book, Utopia where apathy has grown rampant. The government has essentially crumbled and society has been divided so much that there only exists two social classes now, the exceedingly wealthy and the awfully poor, with nothing in the middle.
The majority of inhabitants of both sides are remorseless and unsympathetic about the lives of others and their own lives as well. Morality is a long forgotten concept in this society where rape is normalized and hunting other humans is considered to be a gratifying way of getting rid of boredom. This is apathy taken to the extremes.
Halfway through the novel after having showcased just how unnerving his world and its people are, Towfik reaches backwards in time to try and illustrate how it became such a place. He says there were “terrifying indicators” that “everyone should have take notice of,” but in the end didn’t do anything (109). He makes a metaphor about how these apathetic people were like smelling smoke and because they didn’t tell anyone about it, it ends up lighting a fire.
The novel takes place in 2023 which is only 6 years from right now. Are we going to ignore the smoke just like the Utopians did? Are we going to let a fire ignite and consume us? Or are we as a society going to finally take the steps needed to acknowledge the stench of inequality and injustice and try to fix it.
Don’t be apathetic, fight for what’s right.