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Thursday, 28 April 2011


  Yes, it's that sin everybody loves to hate, the one which a large mammal with long claws and a inclination for eating leaves was named after (I won't name it 'cos it's in the title, it's obvious innit). The very act of writing about it, tells me that I should simply write something like "meh" and leave it at that. Sadly I've already gone to the trouble of taking the pictures for this post and if you google it there are about fifteen hundred de-motivational posters which follow a similar line.

  So. Apathy. As a sin, it does appear relatively unique among the famous seven. Apparently Carl Jung said something to the effect that it is the worst sin, as all others require motivation of some kind. Certainly if you're going to act on lust, anger or greed there is a requisite amount of work that must be done first. A rapist can never be accused of lacking commitment, or an axe-murderer of being afraid of getting his hands dirty.

  In all fairness however, the other sins usually seem to have direct negative consequences for others, whilst apathites usually can only directly do harm to themselves alone. Whilst a thief deprives another person of a beloved or valuable item (or in the case of one house I lived in - underwear) a lazy person can only usually bore another person to the extent that they then avoid the former. In certain cases, dependents might be let down by the apathite, but the beauty of being overly apathetic is that you usually don't have too many dependents. It's just too much effort.

  Certainly there does seem to be a case for negligence when it comes to apathy. The fact, for instance, that Sony are only now trying to build a better security system after the account and card details of 770 million people were stolen, suggests that apathy at certain levels is quiet disruptive at a large scale. However, one can argue that apathy is only a negative consequence when mixed with other sins, in this case the supposed greed of the web-thieves themselves (or maybe they were doing it for a good cause. I'm just spit-balling here).

  Also, in its favour is the idea that it is a rather refined, luxurious sin. In the course of natural life for say Stone Age humankind, any of the other sins is allowed and even advantageous: Anger is useful for braining antelope with rocks, with gluttony you'll eat well and have a better chance at surviving the winter, greed means that you hoard everything you need for a rainy day, jealousy makes you nick the bronze tools that the other guys have made and learn to make them yourself, lust assists procreation and pride convinces you at the very least that you are doing the right thing by killing your rivals. Apathy is the only one which has no place in natural selection, because it offers no advantages, and as such would have tended to be weeded out (except in the case of the sloth - and that's only because it can digest leaves and hang from trees).

  As such it seems that apathy is therefore a more recently, and arguably highly evolved human sin. It can only be allowed in a stable, advanced society where our needs are regularly met, as otherwise it would be killed off. It is a luxury in the purest sense, and to my mind quite an achievement. It is for this reason therefore that I dub apathy on the universal percentage scale: 89%

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