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Indifference, Ignorance, and Mayhem


The nations on this planet are constantly in motion – like moons around a planet. Some are rising and some are declining.

The elements that determine the momentum and transformation of societies are not always intellect, faith, or even compassion. Sometimes, at a certain point, one of the most influential elements becomes indifference. And sometimes indifference can do as much damage as enmity and violence. Indifference is subtly powerful – it makes everything it touches meaningless. Truth, honesty, values, don’t stand a chance against it. It abides with the sociopath, it loves neutrality, it welcomes silence. Indifference aids the oppressor – it never helps the oppressed.

The opposite of love is not hate – it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not just heresy, but apathy. The opposite of pride is not weakness – it’s negligence. When schools begin to openly practice apathy, when history is whittled down to a toothpick of insignificance, when the daily news is reduced to pabulum, there can be no growth in any of that infertile soil.

Ignorance is another keystone in the failure of societies. The ultimate ignorance is rejecting something you know nothing about, but refusing to investigate – we constantly do this with religion and politics. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” I love that quote.

The world (or a nation) becomes a dangerous place when people who recognize evil don’t do anything about it (because responding might get in the way of their monthly check, or their prestigious position.) The ultimate insult to mankind is not the absence of intelligence, but the refusal to acquire it. There are times, when talking about America with people, that I suddenly become aware I am simply no match for their avid incomprehension.

There’s nothing more dangerous than a self-imposed stupidity. On this subject I will leave you with a quote by the poet, Khalil Gibran: “I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance, and thoughtless spontaneity to be art.”

Mayhem is the third element. When we’ve burned past indifference and ignorance, and we’re running solely in survival mode – when there are no more checks in the mail, no more burgers at McDonalds, and no more Hershey’s bars at the 7/11, we’re at the cusp of mayhem.

Ultimately, mayhem is not an action, but a reaction. Mayhem is what happens when ignorance is considered acceptable for too long, and conscience has slid off the kitchen table into a pool of indifference on the cracked and stained floor. Mayhem is what’s left when religion has been banned, education has been dummied down into indoctrination, politicians have become dictators, and the only gods left are greed and survival.

Indifference, Ignorance, and Mayhem – these are the three horsemen of calamity…

The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ownership and staff of The Polk County Pulse. Michael Reisig is a freelance writer and published author whose works are reproduced throughout the globe.

One comment

  1. Michael, I couldn’t agree more. Your summation is “spot on.”

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