Rejecting Apathy

In the past, I have been naïve about the suffering of others. And while it is something that I’m terribly ashamed of, I have spent the last few years actively trying to inform myself.

Last month, LGBTQ patrons were slain at a club in Orlando; this past week Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed at the hands of police officers; five Dallas police officers lost their lives in the line of duty; and on a regular basis, a certain political figure continuously equates the Muslim faith with terrorism.

Heartache is hitting our world with reckless abandon. With each passing negative news update, I find that people react in one of three ways: (1) with grief, (2) anger, or (3) apathy.  

The scary part is that the apathy group is growing at an alarming rate. The desensitization of our nation is real. And I’ll be the first to admit I have been a part of that group before. With each new tragedy, hashtags and Facebook default images pop up all over our newsfeeds, but by the end of the week, our conversations and media outlets drop the topics, while those directly affected are left to pick up the pieces.

People are losing hope. Even among Christians, I’ve noticed a fear. Mostly a fear of offending. Will they befriend their gay neighbor? Will they pray and support the millions of refugees leaving the Middle East? Will they attend a #BlackLivesMatter rally?

Many are staying silent, even though our Jesus is the living, breathing Savior, and true embodiment of hope.

I don’t have the answers to all of the woes of this world. Many times my voice seems small in the sea of events taking place around us. But I do know if we can each help one person, change is happening.

So what can we do?

Imitate Christ in Everything

Jesus has called us to be his hands and feet. For those of you (like me) who don’t always know how to act in difficult times, let Christ be our guide.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2: 3-4

Throughout scripture we see Christ with a slew of different people, speaking truth. In world that seems dark, be a light. And don’t be afraid to make a new friend that’s completely different than you.

Listen

The voices of the oppressed need a listening ear. Too many times, I’ve witnessed nasty arguments arise from someone pushing their agenda under the pretenses of “listening”. Truly be present with someone, and be a witness to their story. This is an act of love.

Don't be silent

Last year’s attack at the Parisian Bataclan theatre occurred on a Friday. That Sunday, I went to church ready to receive wisdom, grieve, and find some understanding in all the madness. Yet, there was no sermon, no condolences offered, not even a prayer. I left that service feeling shaken to my core.

We cannot let apathy win. The hurting in this world is big, but our God is infinitely bigger. The beautiful thing, is that Christ has given us the Holy Spirit (John 14: 16 -17).  If you feel a stirring in your heart, whether it be about an issue you are directly connected with, or simply an issue you can empathize with, speak up. In a respectful and tactful way, don’t be afraid to talk with your friends, family, and colleagues about hard topics.

Let’s reject apathy, (even when we feel it’s easier to not try to understand or get involved). Suffering is happening—we can no longer turn away. God tells he will bring justice to the oppressed (Psalm 103:6), but in the meantime, let’s share the hope we cling to.