Seems like a contradiction–maybe even what they refer to as an oxymoron. How can apathy be aggressive, when by definition it avoids commitment, conflict or even connection?
But when apathy becomes the path to avoid deeper commitment, it will need to be defended whenever circumstances warrant greater involvement.
Jesus fell victim to aggressive apathy on two nasty occasions–when people chose to disregard and disavow the power of his calling.
Please keep in mind that miracles were a part of Jesus’ ministry. It wasn’t all Biblical text and parables. Yet even though there were certainly signs and wonders that followed him, apathy was still in the works.
The first instance was in Nazareth, when he had the audacity to announce the extent of his calling, the purpose of his message and the power of what was about to ensue to his hometown folks.
What did aggressive apathy do? Personal attacks.
- “Who does he think he is?”
- “He’s just the Carpenter’s son.”
- “He doesn’t even have education.
- “Why should we listen to him?”
When apathy becomes a communal mindset, it will feel the need to defend itself–sometimes violently. For if you remember the rest of the story, they push Jesus to the edge of a cliff, ready to throw him off and kill him–simply because he suggested that present circumstances were going to be changed.
In a second incident at the Pool of Bethesda, Jesus asked a crippled man if he wanted to be healed. The fellow launched into a litany of excuses and complaints about why it was just not plausible. Jesus heals him anyway–and the man ends up turning on Jesus, and rats him out to the Pharisees, who were angry about a healing on the Sabbath.
In both cases, Jesus found himself in danger.
Once apathy has become the charter of a community or a segment of people, they will aggressively use whatever is necessary to maintain their autonomy of blandness.
Jesus said we should learn from his life–and that also includes his mistakes.
As Christians, believers and even artists, we need to understand that once we offer our gifts and our message, if they are met with lukewarm response, to further labor in the malaise of nothingness is to risk triggering aggressive apathy, leaving us ridiculed, if not wounded.
Later on in Jesus’ ministry, he learns from these mistakes.
When the Samaritan village doesn’t want to let him in to minister, he just goes to another town. And when the five thousand depart because he offered a perspective they found distasteful, he doesn’t do anything to chase them down.
Apathy by its nature is not violent. But it is alive–and any living thing will fight back if you try to kill it.