In My Ohio

​On What is Left for Apathy

Darren C. Demaree
​Our heads are bowed this morning. We are listening to church bells and silence, and we are thankful that their white noise is unable to elevate us into a focused state. We are unfocused this morning. We are grieving again after another mass shooting, and if we were to concentrate on that too much we would not be able to dress ourselves for work. This morning I hugged my children for too long, and I could not tell them why I had them gripped like a ledge over a great cavern. My daughter was happy to go to school, because she doesn’t know that school is where more people than ever are being executed by the flawed minds that have exploited our flawed system. However, this is not a column about my children, this is a column about you.
I wasn’t always a political person. I was a young drunk. I was a poet who spent most of his time dedicated to describing the way shadows played with a woman’s body, or exploring my many complicated connections with Ohio and family. I voted in the big elections, but if tasked to speak at any great lengths on the issues I would fade pretty quickly. That young man has no place left in this world. He didn’t care about much, and what he did care about possessed no sway outside of his own heart. He needed to go. This happens when you find things or people that you value more than your own self. Your ideals are personal and selfish, and they do not hold up to the intense love of protecting those that you have been tasked to protect. I am political because I have children. I am political because I have a voice that can reach certain notes, and because not everybody can sing, I am obligated to open my mouth when my own beliefs are stirred or challenged.
That is what this column is about. I believe in things. I believe in a certain order in the world. You do, too. You might not talk about it, because the blinders of our personal routine have nothing to do with what we see, but they have everything to do with what we talk about. The blinders of a simple, uninterrupted life are actually a gag. You cannot live and die without ever lifting whatever gravitas you hold into the sky like the gift it is. It is apathy that is allowing these horrific crimes to take place.
So, a section of this country bemoans the violence and grapples with the NRA, and another section of this country threatens loudly mostly because they feel threatened. What they believe is being challenged. I believe we need extreme but slow-developing gun control laws, and they believe that gun ownership is an absolute right. They believe one thing, and I believe another, so we have it out. We have the discussion or the argument, and we hope that some middle ground presents itself.
The silent, the apathetic, those that are waiting for this situation to be resolved for them, they have become the problem. There is nothing left for the apathetic. The tipping point hasn’t even happened yet. At some point there will be a tragedy so incredibly egregious that we will be forced to halt almost everything to decide how to proceed, and if we are unable to find a dialogue at that point, we will lose our grip completely and fall into that cavern. As a country, we will not re-emerge from that.
Now is the time to speak up. If you don’t know what you believe, then figure it out. If you’re somewhere in the middle with your beliefs, then tell people where your lines in the sand are. If you believe that gun ownership is an absolute right, then you can yell that as much as you want. I believe that if we don’t severely alter our current gun laws we will not be a country safe enough to proceed into the next century. We will become something else, something other, a place we will have to redefine with our mountainous grief, and our valleys filled the bodies of innocents. I will continue to say that. I will listen with both ears to those that disagree with me. Mostly though, I am waiting for those church bells to finish their useless marking of time, and for the silence to be filled with voices propelled with the inexhaustible beliefs of those that can no longer hold their tongue.