Our culture is increasingly oppressive, in that people are taught to not speak out or take a stand for themselves and others. From children bullied to corrupt officials going unpunished, we are shown that injustice is the norm to be expected and accepted. Such desensitization and apathy bleeds into all aspects of life, from work habits, to our communal standards of decency and empathy. Unethical behavior towards others is commonplace. The degradation of ethical standards of justice is happening all across the world.
I was told of a prime example of such apathy towards injustice when I lived in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The president of Bolivia arbitrarily raised the price of gasoline to approximately five U.S. dollars per gallon overnight, which was more than twice the normal price. Public transportation doubled their prices to compensate for the increase in fuel cost. A group of children aged 8 to 12 peacefully complained about the price increase on their way to school. The bus driver dragged them out of the bus, and two additional bus drivers joined him in savagely beating the children. No charges were leveled against the drivers. What lesson could those boys have learned other than that to speak out means being beaten and silenced?
This helplessness and desperation is present in American politics as well. Elections swing from one side of the political spectrum to the other because people are desperate for a defender of what is right and just. People are jaded and skeptical of politics because Washington remains unchanged no matter what voters say or who they elect. Government has represented the standard of justice of the United States for generations. Government corruption is so rampant now that it should come as little surprise that those who consider government the primary ethical model should grow apathetic to injustice.
Learned helplessness leads to apathy in the way we personally interact with one another as human beings. People are less likely to help wounded people in a crowd. In New York City, a homeless man, Hugo Tale-Yax, was stabbed when he came to the rescue of a woman being mugged, he was left bleeding on a sidewalk for over an hour as nearly thirty people walked by him, some even checking his pulse and one even taking a quick photo. No one even bothered to phone the police for an hour and a half, by which time the man had died. People are becoming inured to corruption, injustice, and the needs of their fellow human beings. Society cannot exist without empathy and relationships.
I am inspired by people who stand up and lead their generations to enact great change in the direction of their cultures, ethical frameworks, and nations. These people are largely responsible for significant moments in history and thus they should be studied in order to evaluate how we as a people can better our chances of making a better future for future generations. Personally knowing what is right is not enough. We must also be willing and able to reason with others and demonstrate ethical behavior and standards of justice.