I live in one of the poshest colonies in New Delhi. We have not had any water supply for the past 3 days. Power cuts are frequent as well. As a result, cooking, washing, and dealing with just the very basic daily requirements of a household has become a mammoth task. There is a lot of hue and cry in my gated society about this – almost constantly from sun-up to way past sun-down. Social media chat groups are flooded with not-so-kind accusations against various authorities like water and power companies, DDA (Delhi Development Authority), and even the RWA (Resident Welfare Association). Some are even whispering about why receiving “free” amenities is not the best idea after all. Unfortunately few, very few, are actually questioning the deeper problems exposed by this circumstance. And even fewer are #empathetic to it. Almost no one is thinking about what can be done to change this or even address it in the long run.
It is a well-known fact that close to two-thirds of the global population faces some form or the other of water crisis for at least a month annually. In fact, half of the world’s population could be facing water scarcity by 2025. We are currently #living through an energy shock that has disrupted consumer demand and shaken affordability.
Are these facts too negative for a regular Wednesday evening? Sure. But these are real and present challenges staring us in the face – threatening to change life as we know it.
Then, why are we being unrighteously oblivious about them?
The demise of “thy neighbor”
Can we salvage this #ecosystemic collapse of #purpose?
Do you know the name of the person living in the house next to yours? When was the last time you paused to talk to someone in your #community? Are you conscious of the life issues your locality is facing, or a subpart of it is struggling with? What do you know about your domestic worker’s daily water crisis? Your kid’s friend’s anxiety and depression? Your own kid’s emotional well-being? Loneliness suffered by your pet in the day creche, while you are at work? Minutes and hours before that girl, you spotted at the bus stop when you zoomed past in your vehicle, got a ride? The slurs, sideway glances, and “unintentional” brushes she may have encountered while she waited? The regular day of your office boy, who promptly brings coffee for you when told to? Or even the detached purposeless #job hunt of a 22-year-old something?
I am not trying to throw a shroud of gloom over you. No, the gloominess is not in these statements. It is in the demise of human potential to be aware of these daily trials that everyone around us is facing. It is in the abject resignation to the cause of surviving instead of being driven.
In fact, this is the root of all indifference that we as average citizens are living life with every day.
Intellectualization of apathy
Are we rapidly growing into a collective of sociopaths incapable of knowing, feeling, doing, and understanding? The only substantial evidence against this question can be a coherent display of civic empathy as a core competence of growth and development. Do we display it in our decision-making?
After all, what is civic empathy?
It is the guiding principle for humanity with purpose. For pro-social behavior to become normative it needs to be instilled in life choices we make, from a very early age.
This concept is not new. What is new today, in 2022, is the ready availability of statistics on everything!
A report would have us believe that 8 in 10 millennials want to work for a purpose-driven organization, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted both professional and personal lives in ways never imagined before. Who are these #millennials? Where are they located? What do they do? Can we get them together in a room and resolve what this purpose is and how exactly are they keeping track of it? If we cannot do that, can we stop intellectualizing apathy towards social issues and causes that each one of us is capable of addressing? All it needs is a little more knowledge and practice. A little more ‘challenge the status quo’ attitude…