I’ve had enough of this philosophy essay. I’m somewhere in the depths of midnight, all alone in this cold room with nothing but a blank screen to mock me. My eyes weep from the humiliating glare of the clock ticking towards deadline time. I’d like to pretend that I’ve been slaving away for hours and that my poor little brain is swimming with constructive sentiments on the constructivist debate. The truth is that my essay efforts stretch as far as its current double figure word count. That’s as much productivity as my work ethic will allow until submission day arises.
A lazy and disillusioned approach to my studies is one thing, but this apathy extends across all aspects of my life, and in particular can be transposed onto my failure to act upon moral principles and values. On the one hand, I would recommend myself as an ardent environmentalist, yet in reality my action with regard to its preservation is limited to delaying my laundry run until I’ve trolleyed about campus without any dignity, or underwear, until a quiet remark is made.
Similarly, if asked, I’d forever describe myself as an egalitarian and pursuer of social justice until the proles came home, and yet when it comes down to it my generosity to the less fortunate extends only as far as the purchasing of Cooperative Fairtrade chocolate.
And I don’t think I’m alone in failing to fulfil my moral and ethical obligations. We all hold views on matters, and are sometimes even implicated in afflicting these views onto others. But as a general rule, most of us are limited to proselytising our beliefs rather than living by them.
Maybe that’s because our stated concerns are not really our true guiding principles but merely a front of beliefs which we feel we must hide behind in order to achieve a sense of self-justification. We all agree that charity is good and selfishness bad, but how many of us donate all/some/any of our belongings to the homeless? Do we consciously diverge from our moral obligations, or is it a sub-conscious event over which we have no control?
My hunch is that we fail to embark on fulfilling our purported moral goals because we perceive them to be too difficult to achieve. We then use this reasoning as a justification for inaction. Ending absolute poverty is a distant and remote dream which can only be achieved through an enormous systemic change. The effect of an individual’s action would inevitably be marginal, and so inaction stems from the inability to have a tangible effect at reducing the suffering of those afflicted with poverty. It is this failure to effect any changes which I think can often lead to apathy and disinterest. Just as my degree disillusionment arises from the difficulty of its essay-related requirements, I believe we are all susceptible to becoming disenchanted with world issues as soon as we know how difficult it is to solve them. For the sake of our moral conscience and sense of decency, it is often in our interests to be ignorant of or even to ignore the presence of these grievances.
Now that I’ve successfully ‘distracted’ myself from the chore of essay writing for an alarmingly long time, my passive approach to studies can only be said be thoroughly developed. Not knowing what or where to begin, I ignore its requests for attention with another fleetingly superficial activity. I’ll do it eventually, because I have to in order to avoid any more confrontations with BART.
But will I ever act in accordance with my principles?