From my perspective, it appears that wide-spread complacency has brought civilization to the brink of collapse. We have lulled ourselves into this collective state of mind because we seem to think we have all the necessary answers at our disposal and/or we believe we cannot do anything to improve the major problems of the world.
Many of us are caught up in dissent and anger, while others of us are mired in the tempting mental states of denial and the dark well of apathy about the fate of humanity. I argue that complacency is responsible for where we are today.
We can see a microcosm of this complacency by scrolling down a Facebook “Newsfeed”. On the screen we find an array of activist posts regarding the state of the environment, the worries about corruption, and concerns about poverty. In almost equal measure are memes that advise us not to worry ourselves over problems we cannot individually solve, pointless humor, plus the ubiquitous photos and videos about cats. The point being that it is more important to be self-involved than becoming socially involved.
I admit to spreading cat photos, but I do this in order to sugarcoat the “shares” about global and national problems. In some small way, I hope to put a dent in the tsunami of complacency that seems everpresent today.
I saw complacency close-up as it resettled into the hearts and minds of the LGBT community. After years of painful struggle to attain some semblance of equal human and civil rights, we breathed a sigh of relief and let down our guard following the happy result of the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. The euphoria of the moment helped lull much of the community into a deep state of complacency.
Now, with the resurgance of anti-gay forces, we face the prospect of having to start over from the beginning. The massacre of party goers last year in Orlando, Florida was the wake-up call for many. We discovered that gays are being thrown off of tall buildings in parts of the Middle East. This year, gays in Chechnya are being rounded up and murdered. There is no room for complacency in all of this.
Many people have also become alarmed at the level of complacency in some quarters regarding global climate change and the environment in general. There seems to be a feeling that we cannot do anything about climate change, so why bother? Besides, there are plenty of activists carrying signs and protesting, isn’t that enough?
The people who are not complacent are developing and implementing new technologies that diminish or eliminate many of the factors that contribute to climate change. There are even a precious few former corporate polluters who are making efforts to invest in environmentally friendly technology so they won’t be left behind as the world transitions to green energy.
It’s easy to become complacent, even in the face of great danger. Passivity is very tempting when we believe that it is difficult or impossible to improve a situation. We ignore warnings and become lazy in the face of major deficiencies and actual, great danger. After all, won’t the powerful people insure that terrible things won’t really happen?
A great number of people and nations have failed to heed Aesop’s sage advice. “Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth–don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.”
It’s easy to complain and become complacent, so much so that we can become complacent about complacency. There’s a simple, ages old remedy to practice to help ward off this laziness. That is to live each day as if it is your last. Truly imagine that today is your last day. The point is, it very well could be. This prescription may help insure that today is not the last day of civilization.