Indifference, defined by the dictionary as lack of interest, concern or sympathy. It also sounds like an awfully terrible thing to do – the kind of action we think we would walk away from, and never deem to be committed of doing! Or so we think…
Do you remember reading/watching Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen in your childhood? A story of how a boy, named Kai gets a splinter of the troll-mirror that makes him indifferent and cold in his heart. I am reminded of this quote from the same story: “Indifference… is the strongest force in the universe. It makes everything it touches meaningless. Love and hate don’t stand a chance against it. It lets neglect and decay and monstrous injustice go unchecked. It doesn’t act, it allows. And that’s what gives it so much power.”
We are not indifferent, you may say – as we go about living our own lives and doing our own things. How many of us shrug off that friendly note from a friend/family because we just don’t have the time to respond to it – or better, we don’t want to engage! And so we ignore it, hoping to respond to it another time, and that time never comes. That’s indifference, at a small level.
Then there are days when we see injustice being met out – whether it’s a family feud, or two friends separated because of some misunderstanding, or worse, someone’s rights being trampled upon. We cannot stop them (because it is none of our business, you say), we cannot say anything to the person being unjust (because they are directly related to us, or that they know best, why should we interfere, whispers your inner critic), instead we just continue to live our lives as if nothing went wrong. That’s another kind of indifference. In such cases, especially – remaining silent is supporting oppression.
Come to the world affairs, and we hear/see/read of injustice in countries, our own country, our own people being killed in the name of war, religion, ethnicity and yet we go on, doing our own business, as usual. That’s indifference of a higher level altogether that allows ‘monstrous injustice’ to go unchecked, yet again. By not raising a voice to support the oppressed, we are sadly, being party to the oppressor.
I was watching the movie Frozen yesterday with my boys and the little troll grandpa, in the movie gave some sound advice. “The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded.”
And so I hope that we can all persuade our better senses to prevail, avoid indifference at all cost. It’s the small family units that add up to and affect the larger world we live in. Because as the movie reminds us, only an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart. Even the little girl Gerda rescued the cold-hearted Kai with an act of sincere love.
I know with painful certainty that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. No matter how busy and crazy our schedules are, we must reach out and learn to see the sorrow behind someone’s smile, give people a second chance, maybe a third too. Learn to be fair, to the best of our abilities, hopefully our collective efforts in our own small units will snowball into a giant crusade against indifference of the world! I am all game! Are you?