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Beware: Old Man Apathy is Spitting Mad

July 28th, 2018 by Michael Dyet

active shooter

Hmmm, what dark force breeds the horrific acts of violence which are occurring at an alarming rate?

First, a confession. I did not want to blog on this topic. It is a reality I would rather not enter into. But the frequency with which these acts are happening compels me to weigh in.

I will state from the outset that I accept that there is no simple answer. Yes, the accessibility of hand guns enables the perpetrators. I agree with a ban on hand guns. It is a step in the right direction. But as the expression goes: Guns do not kill people. People kill people.

The prevalence of mental health illnesses may also be a factor. You have to be mentally unhinged to perpetrate an act of violence that indiscriminately takes human lives. But it is in no way, shape or form a one-to-one relationship.

An aside: Mental health illness is a complex issue. There are those who suffer from a biochemical imbalance which translates to a lifelong battle. But mental health conditions can also be situationally driven. Life can beat us down and undermine our mental wellbeing. Every one of us is but one misfortune away from losing our grip.

A number of years back, I write a post – titled Old Man Apathy – expressing what I felt was a rising wave of apathy. I was seeing examples of it everywhere I turned. I have reflected further on the issue since then and concluded that it is not a permanent state of mind.

In some cases, fortune turns in our favour and washes away apathy. But apathy that persists over time eventually migrates to something more insidious: despair, anger and even rage. Is it possible that the epidemic of apathy is making that transition increasingly and triggering in the horrific acts we are seeing?

I have also blogged about the increasing survival of the fittest mentality that prevails in our society. Looking out for number one exclusively is infiltrating our thinking. For some, the belief becomes: If I am to succeed, someone else must fail. Personally, I still believe in the power of a win-win attitude. You and I can both succeed if we help one another along the way.

But society tells us in subtle ways that this is a naïve attitude and outdated thinking. We are prodded to go all out to win at any cost. Someone always loses in that battle. Repeated failure breeds apathy as the person with the short end of the stick comes to believe that he/she cannot ever win.

Again, I assert that it is a short leap from anger to despair as the victim comes to believe that the odds are stacked against them. With nothing left to lose, all rules are suspended and the victim lashes out to vent their despair.

Many of us have at one time or another voiced the metaphor: I am so mad I could spit nails! Substitute bullets for nails and the metaphor becomes disconcertingly prophetic.

My plea to all of you: Believe in the countercultural idea of the win-win equation. No, it is not a cure for all ills. But it may just save your life.

~ Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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