Apathy


Book pages 104-105

 

Death statistics represent only the surface. This man sits hunched up all day long in an armchair staring blankly at the two men who had once given him so much hope, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.
 

His wife is lying in bed, sick and debilitated from hunger. She can't afford special diabetic food as they only receive $72 a month.

They are lonesome and forsaken, forgotten by society in a world of emptiness only interrupted by the cheerless dripping of rain through the ceiling.
 

The most pernicious of poverty's diseases is, without a doubt, apathy, the state of mind into which millions of people are thrown when they realize they cannot hold their own in a world of the upward climbing optimism of the wolf-philosophy - and therefore give up the struggle.

The needy in the United States are a minority and see the contrasts of affluence everywhere they look.
 

As a result, the solidarity and pride often characterizing rural communities in the Third World are absent, so that poverty becomes more cruel and much more destructive psychologically than in any other place in the world.

In America you are constantly told that it is your own fault if you are poor, and thus you fall into a state of violent self-hatred - a morbid state I find unequalled anywhere else in the world.

That state of mind helps to kill love in society, the invisible threads of mutual interdependence and trust which ought to flow between people in a wholesome society.

The destruction of love sows an increasing distrust and fear.
Although fear seems to direct everyone in such a society it is first and foremost the poor it paralyzes.
 

One of the things I find most difficult getting used to in America is this ubiquitous fear - and its resulting reactions. Not only the primitive fear of other people, but more frightingly the institutionalized fear of old age, sickness and insecurity, which seem to darken the adult lives of most people and makes them think and act in ways you feel are totally irrational and self-defeating when you yourself have been shaped by a "cradle-to-grave" welfare security.
 

White supremacy is one of the resulting distress patterns in the victims of such fear. This in turn has made blacks fear whites such as this woman who first fled me:
 


- Are you scared of whites around here?
- Man, see, I don't mess up with whites no kind of way. - What is wrong with the whites?
- Them whites, they mess you up, man. They make you lose your home, make you lose your man, make you lose your husband if you got one. They make you do everything that ain't right... I am talking about these around here... What is you?
- I am not southern white...

 

 

 

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