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Apathy is Moral Absence: "Uninvolvement", a Poem

Updated on January 12, 2017
How can anyone lack compassion for the homeless?
How can anyone lack compassion for the homeless? | Source

Can We Truly be Uninvolved and Retain Our Humanity?

Have we seen such utter madness

and encountered so much sadness

that they affect us no longer,

and our horror is no stronger

than a passing thought or two

(There is nothing I can do!)

If disease and deprivation

wars, neglect, mass starvation,

epidemics, drug addiction,

crime, riots, and affliction

spark no distress within our souls,

mustn’t this exact some toll?

Riots in cities....
Riots in cities.... | Source

Where are Our Voices?

If we feel no indignation

when a tyrant soils his nation

with a butcher’s flow of blood;

if a veritable great flood

of loud protests isn’t heard,

why are we mute to speak no word?

When lawbreakers rampant run,

and our cities people shun;

If we turn our heads away,

shed no tears…voice no say….

If we’re indifferent to this blight,

how can we rest content at night?

Crime runs rampant....
Crime runs rampant.... | Source

The High Cost of Apathy

If atrocities in great number

fail to shake us from our slumber,

and we opt for uninvolvement

when we witness gross maltreatment,

and our apathy is manifested

every single time it’s tested

Then I tell you, friend, quite fairly,

time will come to face it squarely

After doom arrives, unhindered,

we will know what we’ve surrendered,

prisoners of our own indifference,

victims of our moral absence


NOTE TO READERS: I will appreciate your comments.

This is my original work and may not be reproduced by any method or used elsewhere without my express written permission. Plagiarism is theft of intellectual property.

War . . . war . . . and more war. Where does it end?
War . . . war . . . and more war. Where does it end? | Source


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  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you so much for your kind words, mothersofnations. While I still don't feel that poetry is my milieu, this particular effort holds a special place in my heart because of the topic. No matter how many people want to defect on the responsibility, the truth is that we ARE our brothers' and sisters' keepers and should not turn away from that responsibility.

    Blessings to you....Jaye

  • mothersofnations profile image

    Mothers of Nations 3 years ago

    Wonderful poem! So beautifully written. This is a favorite for me, a true favorite, not just from your own personal collection, but from a lifetime of read poetry. God bless you!

    Voted up and shared!

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for sharing this, Theresa!


  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Edit Your Comment (open for 10 seconds)

    Stevie - Thanks for your praise of my poem and your very insightful comments. I was moved to write these verses even before the present climate of indifference and hate worsened. This is a topic about which I'm passionate, and it pains me to observe the lack of empathy in this country. The billions of dollars thrown away by the government on much lesser projects than helping the homeless and others in dire need is a case in point. My anger's aroused, and I can only hope that the many citizens with good hearts and love toward their fellow humans will all rise up and make their feelings known about this issue. It will take a very strong grassroots effort to overcome the combination of enuii and hatred within the government at all levels, as well as misplaced hatred by individuals.

    I recently read a hub either written or shared by Paula (fpherj48) about city councils in the U.S. that blocked private organizations such as food banks and churches from feeding the hungry. That's one symptom of a sick society. If I can find the hub again, I'll add a link below this poem.


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    Stevie Cenko 3 years ago

    Jaye, this poem is so marvelously written. "Moral Absence" has definitely reached epidemic levels here in the USA. It's become commonplace to read of so much violence, in the news and to see the physical decay, as a result of the moral decay and indifference within our country. I sense people more and more lacking compassion, concern and caring for societies ills with no motivation to cure or search for the roots of the problems. People, it seems, are content to blame and oftentimes hate others instead. This poem is a keeper. Thanks for writing such strong and true words.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Don - Thanks for the additional detail. Those were the years of civil rights protests in the south, followed by the anti-war protests across the nation. By the mid-60s, there was a greater social awareness among college students that spread to the general populace. (How much other people embraced it depended a lot on age, education, political stance, etc., of course.)

    Now (and for at least a couple of decades), the plight of the homeless touches anyone with a heart. I wish that 'heart' could be seen in the actions of our government (federal, state and local), but at least there are many individuals and private organizations that do care about those who are in need.

    Regards, JAYE

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    Jaye, your poem on apathy is what remained me of college. I think my period of college was more identified with beatniks. I recall a story in the student paper about the "beat generation" which used beat in the sense of discouraged. Maybe it was a state of mind that preceded activism. It was a period of time before the turmoil of the Vietnam War. Also, we were in Minnesota whereas the things that were drawing out the activists were probably more in the South. My first look at student protests (anti-vietnam War) was in 1965 at the University of Iowas, where I had just taken a job with the local newspaper.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Don, that must have been a joke perpetrated by your college paper. You were certainly in the right place at the right time for the student social activism that began in the late '50s and strengthened in the '60s. I read your tribute to early social activist Susan B. Anthony and can't believe that the man who wrote that hub was ever in the least apathetic! Especially since it's obvious you also love dogs and have written several hubs about Native Americans. I believe you have a very good heart and care about people in all conditions (or you wouldn't have even read my poem about apathy, right?)

    Thanks for visiting my hubs....Jaye

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    When I was in college (between 1958 and 1962) we were nicknamed the "apathetic generation", at least by our college paper. A joke was that someone tried to start an apathy club but nobody would go to the meetings.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Au fait - Thanks for your relevant comment, vote and sharing of this hub. I worry a great deal about the apathy so many demonstrate in the U.S., that 'it's just the way it is' mindset.

    Then, however, I'll read about a grassroots effort to change things by activists who are ordinary people like you and me (not celebrities or politicians), and my faith in people--or, some of them, anyway--is restored. As long as there are some people committed to improving conditions and others are listening and joining the endeavor, there's hope for us yet.


  • Au fait profile image

    C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

    So often we are told/taught not to complain, yet that works nicely into the plans of people who oppress others. If no one complains, or not enough people complain, then nothing changes. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. People start thinking the status quo is acceptable, traditional, and everyone agrees it is 'just the way it is.' Nothing changes unless someone has the courage to speak up.

    Excellent poem. Voted up and AI. Sharing and pinned to Awesome HubPages.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for your insightful response, Rozalyn. While the apathetic greatly outnumber those who care, I've learned there are caring people, many of whom are activists trying to create change. I keep hoping for a snowball effect to cause significant change and remedy the social ills in this country and the world. Regards, Jaye

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    Rozalyn Winters 3 years ago

    This is excellent -- I think about this all the time. Maybe there is so much apathy in this nation because everyone is waiting for someone else to say or do something (the Bystander Effect); or perhaps because of lack of community, they feel alone and helpless against social injustice.

    But the truth of the matter is that the actions of a single individual really can start change--consider Rosa Parks, for example. Simply speaking out -- like writing this poem -- has social impact and does make a difference.

    Kudos on this great work! :-)

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you, Tammy. My heart aches for the homeless and others who are desperately in need. So many people are without jobs, have lost their homes and cannot afford to pay rent or provide the basic necessities for their families. We can't shut our eyes to their plight without deserting our own humanity.

    Even worse than turning a blind eye to the problem is blaming the needy for their problems. Every time I read a comment such as "They just won't work," I shudder. Unemployment is rife, and many people who do have work are underemployed in low-paying jobs that keep them near or below the poverty level. How can they be blamed when they're trying as hard as they can, but still can't meet the needs of their families?

    Not long ago I read an article showing the comparative charitable giving by people in all social and financial strata in the U.S. It seems that people who don't have much tend to be more generous toward the needy (as a percentage of their means) than those who could better afford generosity. Perhaps that's because someone who has struggled to make ends meet is better able to understand the potential for homelessness. As you said, sometimes one paycheck stands between having a roof over one's head...or not.

    Thanks for reading and your comment.

    Regards, Jaye

  • tammyswallow profile image

    Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

    This is beautiful, and painfully true. This is a real epidemic. So many turn a blind eye to yet many of us are just a paycheck away from homelessness. Bringing awareness at this level is a great stop in helping the problem.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Aunt Jimi---Those people who close their eyes to homelessness and the other social ills infecting our society cannot escape the results, even those who are callous. They will reap the harvest of apathy.

    The verses of Jacobean poet John Dunne (14th century) are still very relevant: "No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main...." and "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."

    That which happens to others does impact our lives and should impact our consciences; therefore, no one should look away to avoid the unpleasant sights that call for action.

    Thanks for reading and for your comments.


    Theresa---Thanks for re-reading these verses and feeling them in your heart as I know you do. Thanks for sharing, as this is a reminder that needs to reach many.


  • phdast7 profile image

    Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    On a second read, this is still a very good poem and much needed message.

    Sharing. Theresa

  • Aunt Jimi profile image

    Aunt Jimi 4 years ago from The reddest of the Red states!

    You say it so well. So many people don't want to do anything and so they imagine that they can't do anything. Their rationalizations and justifications for in fact doing everything they can to make things worse has no logic. Still other people seem to think if they ignore a thing it doesn't exist or will go away. In any case they do not see how that thing affects themselves and their lives in every possible way. Stan Fletcher is right. Excellent and voted up, interesting, and awesome!

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you, Bill....friend. Your words mean a lot to me. Yes, I do believe we can make a real difference, individually, because when enough individuals do the right thing, they become (collectively) a mass effort.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Prisoners of our own say you are not a poet but I disagree. This is coffee house poetry from the 50's and 60's, and it is powerful. I am so proud to call you a friend; we will make a difference, one person at a time. Bravo!

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, agilitymach, for reading, and I'm glad this poem spoke to you. Though I'm not much of a poet (and not at all of free verse), occasionally an emotion or thought seems to call for rhyme. Caring about other humans is a very strong emotion that I feel continuously, and I find it horrifying that so many people don't spare a thought for their fellow humans.

  • agilitymach profile image

    Kristin Kaldahl 5 years ago

    Thought-provoking and yet written in a more traditional style that I appreciate. Great work!

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you, Rahul and Theresa, for your comments. I'm glad my poem spoke to both of you.

    It is much too easy to fall into the trap of complacency and ignore suffering and evil. In order to avoid that trap, we must take notice--be aware of what is happening in our world, truly care about our fellow humans (and animals)--no matter where on this planet they live, and do what we can as individuals to make a difference for the better.

    Even a small action, multiplied by millions of people also striving to make this world a better place, can become a miracle.


  • rahul0324 profile image

    Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

    Moving... it provokes so many thoughts i me...

  • phdast7 profile image

    Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    Jaye - A good and moving poem. As moral human beings, it is unconscionable for us to shut our eyes and close our ears to the terrible things around us. Where we can, where we are able, we need to intervene, to help, to rescue those who are lost. Thank you for sharing this poem with us. Sharing.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 6 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you so much, epigramman. Coming from such a talented writer as you, those kind words are valuable to me and very much appreciated.

    I do care, though it isn't always easy for me to put my feelings into words. I can but try.


  • epigramman profile image

    epigramman 6 years ago

    ...well you are quite the writer yourself - you have given me such legendary praise my friend but I can see that old adage here which comes true - it takes one to know one - and it's obvious in the context of your ideas and thoughts that you care very much about the world and people around you and it shows in every profound soulful word that you write ....

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  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 6 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks so much, Stan, for your kind words. I feel that if we lose our empathy and become hardened to the suffering of others, we will lose our humanity. JAYE

  • Stan Fletcher profile image

    Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

    This was a MASTERPIECE. Apathy literally kills. Thanks for the wake up call.