One of my old jokes was, “There’s a lot of apathy in our society but who cares?” I’m the first to admit it’s both funny and it’s not. I’ll also confess that I’ve been making the joke long enough that I stopped thinking about whether or not it’s actually true. Granted, it seems like people are less interested and less engaged, but is it due to apathy?
Last fall I self-appointed myself as a volunteer promoter and advocate for the “Pirate Specials Program” developed for our middle and high school students in M.S.A.D. 4. One aspect I’d like to share with you is the extreme lack of apathy I’ve encountered. I started out with a belief that it would perhaps be challenging to get members of the community to agree to participate. What I found instead was enthusiasm and pent-up energy. Most of the folks I talked to wanted to sign on before I’d delivered half my pitch. Sometimes there were logistical challenges such as scheduling, but I considered it my role to make things as easy as possible for those who wanted to volunteer.
Of course I’m still campaigning, but it has been rewarding to see people want to get involved with our schools and our kids. As far as I know, no one’s been avoiding me and I now find myself re-thinking my old joke. Maybe there’s not as much apathy as we think there is.
Coincidentally, I was introduced to a Ted Talk entitled “The Antidote to Apathy” by David Meslin who calls himself a “professional rabble rouser.” His formal bio describes him as “Multi-partisan and fiercely optimistic, Dave Meslin embraces ideas and projects that cut across traditional boundaries between grassroots politics, electoral politics and the arts community. In his work, in Toronto and globally, he attempts to weave elements of these communities together. (His business card reads “Dave Meslin: community choreographer,” which feels about right.)”
The video is only eight minutes long so I’m not going to make this post a spoiler. Yes, Meslin talks about Canada, but I think you’ll agree there are plenty of similarities in the United States. This definitely should be required watching for anyone who’s involved with a civic organization, political party, school, church… if you’ve found yourself complaining about people not getting involved in things that matter, watch this.