Fear, apathy, or just a dead soul…

Something has been bothering me of late.

It first came up a few months ago with a “JustGiving” campaign started by a dear friend. Goal? $2000. Not a huge sum of money, but one which could have been truly life changing. Friends on Facebook: roughly 1500 at last count – that equates to just over $1 each, along with various other 1000 who frequent a forum run by said dear friend. $2000 dollars should have been an easy ask, then! Nope. Not even close.

Fast forward a couple of months: a sponsored sky dive by another dear friend’s disabled son. Facebook friends: 300, blog followers (all of whom know the sponsored individual’s story well): around 2000. Goal for a most deserving cause? £1000. Wow, that’s easy – 50 pence each! Nope. Whilst I’m sure the jumper got much more out of leaping from a perfectly good aeroplane than reaching his sponsorship goal, narry half raised by a mere handful of individuals.

A couple of weeks ago a passing acquaintance from a forum that I (in)frequent put out a plea for help, never an easy thing to do. Could we support his “FundAnything” campaign? Goal? $3000. When I say “life changing”, it’s only because there isn’t a word in the dictionary which can actually reflect the impact on this individual. He probably won’t mind (too much) hinting at the hopeless place in which he feels he finds himself, as opposed to the new direction, purpose and hope possible through acquiring what is, let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, a rather paltry (though nevertheless, as an individual, considerable) amount. Facebook friends: 359 – that’s $10 each. Forum members: 2000 – that’s $1.50 each… With two weeks to go – no chance of realising a dream…

What happened? When did we become so isolated from our fellow man, that when he reaches out, we cannot find in our pockets (nor in our hearts) what is, to us, nothing more than the price of a few cups of coffee (drink instant for a day!)…

It’s everywhere, of course. The apathy.

Charities, since 2008, have seen dramatic loss in their working revenue, allowing them to do much less. Homeless and displaced individuals (beggars if you are so inclined, but nonetheless human, alone as we all are, simply seeking a moment in our day – a moment which might make us late for a meeting, but may be the one which saves their lives) are met with much less sympathy than they were once able to garner. It has always shocked me the effect of being willing to have a chat with a homeless individual: the disbelief that you would, the shock should you caress them, the tears engendered by a hug.

I have witnessed more “charity” in the slums of Mumbai than I have ever encountered in the High Street. The anonymity of online “friendship” merely seems to exaggerate the apathy.In “real life” we fool ourselves into believing we would do whatever we could to help – but would we, do we?

Maybe it’s a malady of the West and its de-humanising systems?

Is it fear? Fear that we may get home and find our bank accounts emptied? That $10 in our pocket may be needed to pay the rent, feed our own family, pay for healthcare; and in many households tonight that is, indeed, the sorry truth of it.

For the rest of us, however? A single dollar? That’s not fear… that’s something else entirely. I’m not entirely convinced it is good for the soul…


Here is a random stranger’s plea for assistance to afford a chance at a new life. http://fundanything.com/en/campaigns/please-help-me-move-to-china

You may feel “too random, too strange”. That’s OK. I only ask that next time you pass a stranger in need of assistance, offer what you can. That, I am certain, IS good for the soul.

About A Misanthropic Bear

Intermittent posting of random touchstones, memories and events. This wasn't meant to be what it would become... But then, is it ever?
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6 Responses to Fear, apathy, or just a dead soul…

  1. bert0001 says:

    It is the power of “many” — there are enough bystanders, someone will do it. You can google ‘bystander effect’ and visit the wiki. “the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help” Now with internet there are many more bystanders than in real life … imagine the effect!
    If something happens on the road in North Norway, you are probably the only person passing within the next hour, and you will almost certainly help. (I have been on both sides, in fact quite often, in just 14days of driving there) But close to home, when I saw a lethal road accident, a smell of gaz, and a lot of bystanders, and some phoning, I considered both my children on the rear seat, and concluded that at least one of those phoners was alarming 112.


  2. Very good points!
    (There was, by the way, a Santa in front of Walmart, where I went today, ringing a bell for the needy; I stopped and gave plenty.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Running Elk says:

      Thanks Julianne. Never heard of Billie. Her case stands as a masterclass in the phenomena that Bert has brought to my attention (below). One like, two comments, 14500 followers… :/

      Ironically, $1 per month from each of them would make Billie’s life very comfortable indeed… at a personal cost of $12 per year… Meanwhile, less than $725 per month raised… 😦

      Don’t get me wrong. Obviously it would be impractical for us to support EVERY plea for assistance, but it just seems odd that there be such a dearth of empathy within “our own” circles… and yet, somehow, the “Bystander Effect” empowers our turning away…


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