Apathy in students erodes civic identity

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, we have been told that Islamofacist terrorism is by far the gravest threat that our country faces in the 21st century. While I fully recognize the danger posed by this threat and agree that we must do all in our power to stop it, something far worse is threatening the core of our democracy. It is a disease called apathy, which no terrorist needs to destroy us. It is the potential for apathy that exists in our human fabric which will destroy us if we don’t recognize the folly of our ways.

What is apathy exactly in the political and civic sense? And how does it relate to the 21st century struggle against Islamofacist terrorism? The answers to these questions may appear alarming, but are starkly true. In no way do I mean to downgrade the threat posed to us by terrorism. Rather, in every way I seek to upgrade awareness of a higher threat. Apathy is simply the lack of concern and care for what is happening in the political and civic world. It is ignorance about domestic and world affairs on the part of the individual. Just as cancer patients seek to eliminate their pervasive conditions, apathy is a complete civic disgrace that every person should seek to eliminate from his or her being.

In cancerous fashion, terrorists will use threats and bombs to destroy us. This is sad. What is even sadder is that each of us possesses the ability to chip away at the fabric of our democracy in a worse way. It is because of our apathy that civil society will break down, democracy here will fail and the wonderful country we call America will perish. So, I plead to you to wake up, take heed of what’s going on around you and become an informed, apathy-free American individual.

To take heed of my call, first you must take a moment and realize the gravity of what has just been said. We, personally, have the ability to destroy all the good that has gone into, and continues to go into, the great country we call America. I am sick and tired of meeting people who can name every player on their favorite sports teams, but can’t recite to me the names of their elected representatives. Now, I’m not in any way degrading the value of sports. What I am berating is the distorted sense of priorities many people have today.

Feel free to name every player on your favorite team, but you’d better be able to answer basic questions about American democracy and civics if you want to be called an informed, responsible citizen. Here are some examples of questions to which you should know the answers, because their answers affect the circumstances of your life every day, whether you know it or not. Who are your federal senators? Who are the secretaries of defense and state? Who is your representative in Congress? Who has the power to declare war? Who is the governor of New Jersey? Who is your local mayor? What is currently going on in Pakistan? Name four hotly debated political issues in the presidential primaries. Name a current events issue. Ultimately, inspect and ask yourself: am I apathetic?

One may think it is unreasonable to think that not knowing the answer to one of the above questions poses a more dangerous risk to democracy than terrorism. Perhaps. But what I am pointing out is what ignorance and apathy mean on a broader basis for society and democracy. A democracy is only as strong as the civil society that roots it and the electorate that sustains it. In local school elections that decide how 60 percent of property taxes are spent, as well as the education quality of countless students, the average turnout in New Jersey is 12 percent. Less than 50 percent of the country votes to choose our president, yet 100 percent will complain when they don’t like something that’s going on. This apathy has great consequences for civics and society domestically, and even bigger consequences for America globally.

Apathy and ignorance in our country will lead to a populace that is not cognizant of the great problems that face us everyday. These problems, first and foremost, include terrorism. If millions of individuals are apathetic, that makes a society and a country apathetic and that means we have a ripe crop of idiots for terrorists to easily overrun with their hostility and hatred. We have seen terrible consequences come from apathy in the past. Such disasters rooted in apathy are the subjugation that women and blacks have experienced in our nation’s history, the fate of Jewish people during the Holocaust and genocides in Africa.

Today, apathy is about to give birth to the continual degradation of American democracy. Apathy will advance the inequalities that continue to exist in our country. Apathy will continue to advance the failure of American public schools. Apathy will continue to erode our social fabric. Apathy will continue to advance corruption and immorality in our public officials. Apathy will continue to advance the invasion of our country by illegal aliens.

Apathy will increase the dangers of Islamofacism and spread of terrorism to unsuspecting populations. Apathy will continue the wasting of your money and politicians screwing you over every day. Apathy will continue to eat away at the safety you now take for granted in your life. Apathy will destroy you, unless you wake up and destroy it within yourself first.

So if for nobody’s and nothing’s sake other than your own, learn about civics, your democracy and current events.

Go out, get informed, vote and become a real citizen. End apathy now, or forever hold that false sense of peace you now feel.