Or, as Edmund Burke wrote – All that’s necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Burke lived between 1729 and 1794, proving once again that old adage “the more things change the more they stay the same.”
I have been challenged more than once on this statement, which I coined a few years ago. In its original, it read apathy is a more dangerous religious position than fanaticism. I was writing to a group of “religious” people of course, who were at the time, totally preoccupied with religious extremism.
But its true in pretty much every aspect of our lives. The man who abuses his spouse can only do so because others turn a blind eye. The woman who neglects her kids can only make her excuses plausible if we’re willing accomplices in the fabrication. And of course, we have all been ample witnesses to what happens when we become apathetic about politics. I’ll be posting a companion piece over on Reciprocal Politics about that.
In one of those hidden camera episodes, a TV news program staged a fight between a man and woman in a park, with the man obviously browbeating the woman. They wanted to see how people would react.
Some passed by. Several called 911. One person stood next to the woman who was being abused and told the man he might as well leave because she wasn’t going to. Simple as that. Did she put herself in harm’s way? If the situation had been real, possibly. But there were others there, and the man would have been unlikely to risk things escalating. He would have been concerned that others would no longer be content to “do nothing” either.
For good people to do nothing. So simple isn’t it?
And so is the counter to it. For good people to do something.
May we all do something today, and every day.
Because, apathy really is a more dangerous position than fanaticism.