Outraged to Apathy: Patterns of the Heart
Have a face-to-face conversation with any adult, tune your T.V. to any news channel or talk show program, log into any area of social media on your smart phone, and within minutes you are hit with the numbing reality of our times. The current events reported over and over again through video, or a verbal play-by-play, literally leave my head spinning.
The horrific circumstances occurring all around us (almost on a daily basis) is bad enough, but then we must endure the aftermath of opinion and comment from the entire world. Ears, eyes, and hearts are subjected to cruel, unrelenting comments of sheer outrage, complete with ample name calling and racial slurs thrown in for good measure.
Back and forth banter, which you know good and well, would not be happening with this volume of wrath and fury if these people were sitting across the table from one another. But, if you find yourself offended or don’t agree, wait just a moment because the temperature is quick to change. In record time outrage gives way to shoulder-shrugging apathy, with a complimentary meme display certifying “This is me not caring about your life-crushing grief.”
What is causing this pendulum swing of the heart? How do we, the people, go from outrage to apathy in warp speed?
May I suggest two possibilities: Overload and lack of control.
Both come from the same place, in my opinion: A place of helplessness.
Our circle of influence, our “watch,” so to speak, has gone global.
How do I celebrate my 7-year-old son’s winning soccer goal while sitting in the bleachers reading an Amber alert? How do I share the Daddy-Daughter Dance photo, in the same trending space, detailing the fact that every 30 seconds another child is forced into slavery, due to human trafficking? How do I tag Ann Voskamp to my Facebook post about my loving husband being one of a thousand “daily gifts,” when there are recent widows who no longer have a husband, or father to her children, because he was shot down in the streets while protecting “we the people”?
We respond. Outraged!
We feel helpless to make any change using our own resources. We feel helpless to turn back the tone-setting tide of big government. We feel helpless to redirect the constant influence of the media flooding our mind with doom and cynicism. This is just too much. In our effort to live our life, we numb. We become justifiably apathetic.
We respond, “Meh.”
Recently, I watched a replay of Canadian Dave Meslin’s Ted Talk from 2010. Melsin suggests we feel helpless and are not beneficially engaged for the same two reasons I suggested above. Therefore, we don’t see ourselves as leaders or world changers, and even if we did, we are not equipped.
He equated it to being the super hero, and we don’t have the (super) power to affect change. So no matter what is happening around us… this is not our rescue.
I beg to differ.
Here are two things we can do to counter the helplessness we feel as we ride the rising tide together.
- Self-monitor your exposure and input in reference to information about tragic events. Counter your emotion-driven response by taking charge. Spend equal time in the positive. Spend time in prayer, with encouraging people, and with God. Refuel! Then utilize the influence of the Holy Spirit to inspire your output.
“For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things” (Phil. 3:18-21. Phil. 4: 4-9).
- Move toward what matters, get up and make a difference where you can.
“My dearly loved brothers (and sisters), understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:19-27).
Balancing our input allows us to take care of ourselves (like putting your oxygen mask on first in the event of an emergency) then while doing what we can-where we can, we offer a breath of life to others.
You are not powerless!
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
You ARE chosen and called to proclaim, so demonstrate the light of His mercy, as you respond “well” -during these turbulent times.
Be encouraged – shine on!