indifference shamsnn

Are we all just too apathetic? Or is it a part of growing up? 

The other day, I happened to stumble upon an article concerning the author and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel. Apart from his first-person bestsellers about the Holocaust, Weisel is a noted public speaker who regularly talks about his experiences during the Holocaust and about the lessons he learned from it. Considering that Weisel has gone through the horrors of the Holocaust, I was struck whilst reading the article by his biggest fear about this and future generations: indifference.

As a fourth-year, the impending doom of graduation is nearly upon me. In only a few months, I will walk across the stage at Younger Hall, receive my diploma, and bid adieu to St Andrews for the foreseeable future. The world that awaits surely won’t be the utopia I envisioned as a seven-year-old child, nor will it be the one of dire economic straits faced several years ago by graduating students. Of the other things I can also be relatively certain about upon graduation are: that world peace will not be satisfied, that I probably won’t have a job, and that there will still be evil in the world. But of all those things, the one that worries me the most is mine and others’ sheer indifference towards most things.

Mine and Elie Weisel’s biggest fear is wholly justifiable. Think about the Civil War in Syria. Which of you reading this actually cares about the outcome? I would like to think I care, I would like to think that I would march to protest against the government to press for action in Syria, but I am afraid that I would not partake in such action. I would like to think that I would, if pressed, support a humanitarian intervention. But at the same time, I also know that whatever the outcome, my life won’t be impacted that much. I’ll still be able to go to my lectures, drink several days a week and mind-lessly browse the internet. I know that I should care, but I just cannot bring myself to pledge my support to any such cause. What is worse, I know my indifference is bad, I know that I should support a cause, but the society we live in has become so comfortable with the status quo that indecision has become acceptable.

As university students, we are encouraged to engage in dialogue and have opinions on certain matters and to a large extent we do. We will argue in tutorials for certain viewpoints or argue on behalf of this or that theory. But when do we actually take a stand? When do we actually support a cause that is worthwhile? When do we take time to become educated about matters that won’t directly impact us? I know that I’m guilty of being apathetic to most things, but I think it would be beneficial for once, to support something worthwhile. Perhaps I will find that something worthwhile wherever I go after graduation. Maybe you have found it already. Good for you. I’m still learning, after all.


Matt Steele


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