Apathy – what's up with that?

Apathy is a state of indifference — where an individual has an absence of interest or concern to certain aspects of emotional, social, or physical life.

Apathy can be object-specific — toward a person, activity or environment. It is a common reaction to stress where it manifests as “learned helplessness” and is commonly associated with depression. It can also reflect a non-pathological lack of interest in things one does not consider important.

william james called indifferencethe trait in human character most likely to make the angels weep.”

I have seen a ton of apathy within the Deaf community – seems when folks r not busy attacking each other (u too Big D, u too small d, Deafhood stinks, Gallaudet protest foolish, “not Deaf enough” rules, etc etc etc), folks are pleading neutrality or indifference.

This saddens me greatly because i dont think Deaf folks really are indifferent – on a whole they r a very passionate group – have plenty to sign out about on very important issues HOWEVER many / most are very reluctant to commit it to writing or to have it publicly recorded – the FEAR factor champs

Gandhi said “Whatever you do may seem insignificant, it is most significant you DO IT.”

This is our rally cry – peaceful, positive, and proactive activism. Let us not make the angels weep.



PS: i promise ill do a vlog soon – just requires a bit more time to compose and generate than a quick post

PSS: someone recently reminded me of a comment i had posted in the Deaf pagan website which the blogger had asked to lift and post as a blog entry – in re-reading my post, I see it may have relevance to the above and might be of interest to others who may not have seen it yet:


thanks Ocean for having posted it


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ella Lentz
    Nov 15, 2007 @ 11:40:04

    Again, another meaningful message from my Deaf angel.
    Important to be constantly reminded…and encouraged through challenges…and with positive attitude…
    You made an important point:
    seems many Deaf people are either “attacking/criticizing” others without positive solutions, OR remaining “silent” (pun intended) or neutral.
    I want to see more discussion on “neutrality” and its destructive effect on our community.
    Thank you….and can certainly understand about blogging being faster than vlogging… gotta push the technology farther and faster!
    Look forward to your vlog on this topic.

  2. Jean Boutcher
    Nov 15, 2007 @ 18:42:16

    What a powerful message! I have witnessed three groups of Deaf people since the UFG protest began last year. The first group knows what is right and what is wrong and do not let anyone influence or change their mind. They have a mind of their own. The second group is overcome by apathy. That is a cardinal sin! Dante would place them in the last circle of Inferno. The third group is different from the first two groups. The first group and therapists can save the third group. This third group is controlled by a deep sense of fear “set in” by few powerful Deaf people who, with MBI, persuade them that to protest is wrong. The third group, out of fear, buys few powerful Deaf people’s rhetoric because ostracisation is their big fear if they disagree. The third group dare not think. Why? Again because they do not want to lose their old friends.

    It is not easy for the third group to regain the friendship because the Deaf world is small. Everybody knows who you are or your name. If a hearing person was ostracised for dissenting the BoT and a presidential designate, he would lose nil, for he could always move into another corner of the globe. The hearing world is big. The Deaf world is small.

    What I wrote above is based entirely on my direct experience.

  3. brenster-
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 09:53:55

    I read this entry yesterday and gave it a lot of thought on this subject.

    In my opinion, the most overlooked group of apathy within the Deaf community is the hearing folks whom we believe to be our allies.

    Examples of ‘WHO’ are:

    -Many teachers of deaf are hearing.

    -Many ASL teachers are hearing.

    -Many interpreters are hearing.

    -Many people who got PhD, and now work in deaf-related fields (e.g. Deaf History, Deaf Studies, ASL instruction, Deaf education, etc) are hearing.

    -Many of those hearing people with PhD wrote books about Deaf culture, history of oppression on Deaf people, education, etc. Those books were published.

    -Many of those hearing people with PhD, who wrote and published those books, tend to hold high job positions, such as professors, assistant professors, department chairpersons, program coordinators, etc.

    -Many researchers who study language and culture of Deaf people, published articles and books about them are hearing.

    -I can go on and on, but you get the picture. Now, here’s my point:

    Where are THEY?

    Are they going to STAND UP WITH US?

    I have seen some Deaf people put their jobs in jeopardy, but those hearing people did nothing to support them because they chose to protect themselves first. Some of them even turned their backs against the Deaf which ultimately led to the loss of some of Deaf people’s jobs.


    I just wanted to point out that the hearing folks are as guilty as Deaf folks for the apathy within our community!

  4. pdurr
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 12:49:42

    thanks to all your comments

    i agree with each of u

    brenster – u raise an excellent point

    i have been puzzled by the lack of any formal response from many hearing academics who have published books and journals on the subject of Deaf rights etc

    The MacArthur Foundation award winning, Dr. Harlan Lane, comes to mind. He has contributed substantially to the field of Deaf studies via his books When the Mind Hears and the Mask of Benevolence and other journal publications but i have not seen anything concrete come from him re: the “not Deaf enough” and anti-ASL spin coming from the former Gallaudet leaders.

    The only published op-ed pieces that i know of on the subject of the Gallaudet protest were by Lennard Davis (CODA) in the Chronicles of Higher Education (jan 12, 2007), Leah Cohen (granddaughter of Deaf adults) in the NY times (oct 31, 2006)

    i did see hearing professors at Gallaudet taking a stand on the protest in favor of the protestors (johnson and erting etc)

    While gandhi and MLK jr welcomed having non-Indian and non-African American allies as being part of their movement – they also acknowledged that the bulk of the advocacy and leadership should come from within

    it would be awesome if more Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing folks could come together to act collectively



  5. brenster-
    Nov 17, 2007 @ 15:59:16

    Hi again! I completely agree that it’d be “awesome if more Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing and hearing folks could come together to act collectively.”

    Those anti-Deaf and anti-ASL proponents continues to attack on Deaf and ASL with ridiculous and inconclusive arguments which clearly wouldn’t help all of us to come together to act collectively.

  6. pdurr
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 06:20:21

    yes right now there is a very destructive component obstructing collective action

    thankfully it is a small group and all movements have had opposition from within their own people –

    we shall overcome



  7. Trackback: Apathy vs. Activism « PEOPLE OF THE EYE -…first, last, and all the time” – g. veditz 1910

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