Nothing much to do in the morning so I was browsing the internet when I stumbled on an essay that resonated with me. It was about “apathy of impotence”, a great phrase that nicely sums up how I feel about the world today. So I wrote a comment, and the comment kind of took on dimension so I pumped it up a little and by 10am I had something to submit to the writers group. I’ll append it below.
After lunch I took a tech squad call: Roku remote not functioning, and we found out it had one good battery and one completely dead. Probably the customer had mixed up the batteries while changing them? Put back one old one along with one new? Anyway, easy fix.
Later in the day I spent a couple of hours converting the official Heritage Circle grant application. It is distributed as a paper form to be filled out, and I don’t want to be trying to edit and re-edit paper forms. So I figured out how to scan it and put its image as the background of a Pages document, so I could “fill it out” by typing into text boxes positioned over the image. Tomorrow I will put some text in those text boxes.
Here’s what I read to the writers group:
I thought I had nothing to say this week. Then I read an online essay (link below) that I think the author, a professor of Philosophy at Cal State Fresno, intends to be inspiring. In this well-written essay Prof. Fiala decries the “apathy of impotence,” a condition that
grows from the feeling that there is nothing we can do to change a world afflicted by systematic and structural problems.
He concludes that
The vortex of despair is overcome by going out and getting to work. We find hope when we join together with others who are actively working to make change.
I’ve certainly felt the apathy of impotence. From under that personal cloud of doom I look out at my activist neighbors, writing letters and attending rallies — exactly the kinds of action Prof. Fiala advocates — with bemusement. So I wrote the following as a comment on his piece.
Oh yes. “We can make a difference,” the organizers cry. The apathy begins when you simply stop believing them. The practical evidence on the ground that “We can’t” is quite strong. Why? Because none of the available targets for social action — political parties or candidates, particular corporations, etc. — are fundamentally at fault. Each identifiable social villain is but another head on a vast Hydra whose amorphous, ubiquitous body arises from the fetid slime of those basic flaws of human nature: fear, and greed, and stupidity. From the incomprehensibly rich conferring at Davos, to the minimum-wage clerk in Tampa drawing a sense of personal significance from the latest QAnon conspiracy, all are utterly ruled by fear of losing what they have, by greedy compulsion to have more, and by a sullen unwillingness to agree to any change whatever in the routine of their lives.
This Hydra, this looming monster with an uncountable number of devouring heads, will not be affected by social action against any one of its blind noggins; it will roll on, obliviously drowning our social world, until it slams hard into the real limits of the physical world. The society that remains after that shock will be very different, and probably much smaller, than ours.