Opinion; Our Nation's Greatest Threat - It Isn't What You Suppose

By Michael Monasky | July 31, 2016 | What is the greatest threat to our nation? Is it the same as the threat to our local commun...



By Michael Monasky | July 31, 2016 |

What is the greatest threat to our nation? Is it the same as the threat to our local communities? Would that threat be the greatest to individual persons, too? Is the greatest threat to me, to you, to us, to our society, a violence which will crush us? Is it conflagration, flood, earthquake, global warming and climate change? Is it war, poverty, gun violence, hate crimes, or racial intolerance? Is it ISIS, ISIL, Al-quaeda, or radical religious fanatics addled with hate?

It's all of the above, and none of the above. It's apathy.

 Apathy neglects the need to change my bad habits. Apathy is the rationalization to do nothing but gripe. Apathy is embodied in the ghostly political movement of the Nixon silent majority. I can characterize apathy because it's the half-empty glass of latter-day politics where more potential voters avoid the elections than participate. Apathy describes what everyone but the Samaritan did for the victim of the highwayman; nothing but spit and curse. Apathy is persistent, transparent and insidious as is gravity, and has one characteristic distinguishing it as the greatest threat of all; it stands aside from evil-doing.

The opposite of apathy is empathy. Empathy is acknowledgment of the other person. Empathy engages my mirror neurons, makes me flinch when I see the hero get hurt at the movies. Empathy isn't feeling sorry for someone, but actually feeling what they feel, as much as that's possible. Walking a mile in someone's moccasins doesn't qualify me to be, or even speak for, that person, but it does make my feet feel something like those of the other.

Compassion is the code word for empathy. Compassion makes me think and feel so that I and the other person can become one; one in partnership, one in community. Compassion enables me to shed my self so that I can respect myself and, eventually, respect others.

But when I'm apathetic, I have closed myself off to the other person. That's because apathy disconnects me from myself. In an apathetic society, I become an automaton; I get through the day and that's about it. Apathy builds walls of defense, so I can fear that other people will take my employment, live in my neighborhood, populate my local school, and dominate me with their alien culture.

Apathy and fear create an ever-expanding, closed-loop circuit. The more I fear, the more apathetic I become; and the more apathetic I am, the more I harbor fear. Although Elk Grove is touted to be a diverse community, there is segregation here. City policy has isolated “affordable” and “workforce” housing, setting hundreds of poor families in quarantine. The latest controversy over the Wilton Rancheria casino has stirred otherwise latent, racist remarks from the establishment which originally took lands from the Miwok tribes. The older neighborhoods (read: east side) are generally whiter than the newer neighborhoods (read: west side.) “Gated” is an invalid modifier for “community,” especially when “executive” housing is exclusively designed for restricted access to the other. The very nature of suburban flight from urban centers is the byproduct of fear and apathy.

There is no easy, painless answer to apathy and the way it estranges us. However, if we become frustrated enough with our apathy, then we can foster curiosity about each other. We can start a conversation, and be open to each other's ideas. We can include others in our social circles and discuss our mutual needs. We can accept each other as we are, and come to consensus at least in continuing the conversation and building our community.

We can overcome apathy and become a community of compassion. Si, se puede.





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8 comments

nick dyer said...

Another liberal op piece from my favourite local news source. East Elk Grove is whiter? Why does that matter to this man? Our city, has a very diverse population, a population with an attitude that has matured considerably over the years. I wish the author would also mature and stop sniveling.

EGN said...

Mr. Nick Dyer,

Thank for reading, actively commenting on our postings, and being one of our most frequent visitors to Elk Grove News.

Just to be clear, we welcome an array of opinions and if you would like to have your voice heard, you are always welcome to submit an opinion piece. We have a few qualifications that we will be happy to discuss with you via email or phone. Contact us if you are interested and again, thank you for your patronage.

Josie said...

Yes, I enjoy reading the many different opinions. You may not like Monasky's positions, but he never hides from his beliefs.

nick dyer said...

Invitation declined eg news, I'm no writer. Maybe some crack journalists on your payroll, can fact check the op article to help people learn truth.

Mark Doty, Trails Committee Chair said...

Apathy isn't a conservative or liberal issue. #nolabels

Ace of Spades said...

The sad thing is these multi-term career politicians believe that they are leaders or something. The deal is, voter apathy leaves a vacuum for special interests to buy their votes. By the time apathy wakes up, if it ever does, it will be GAME OVER.

nick dyer said...

Apparently, apathy is caused by the "segregation" of our city.

W. Morris said...

Mayor Monasky has a nice ring to it! Elk Grove's very first socialist mayor-the next big thing since Bernie Sanders was mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the 1980s.

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