Here are some previous thoughts on the subject of Apathy. When you have finished on this page, click Back to look at other topics.

When Bakr Melhem set up a meeting with Jamila, a woman he’d been getting to know through an internet chat room, he didn’t expect to discover her name was in fact Sanaa and it was his wife. Sadly, the marriage did not survive the mutual deceit.

The two clearly had much in common and found each other attractive, at least while they thought the relationship was fresh and exciting. Something must have gone wrong however over the years and they had lost sight of their affection for each other among all the other demands and responsibilities of married life.

There’s an art in keeping a relationship fresh. It’s easy to begin to feel that friends we have known for many years have become rather predictable. Loving relationships that have got past the stage of being ‘in love’ sometimes seem to lose their passion. Often this is what we want – the very familiarity and comfortableness of being with people we’ve known for years is relaxing because it makes us feel safe.

Valentine’s Day invites lovers to look afresh at each other and express with gifts and cards the excitement of their togetherness. It’s an opportunity for us to bring the same new eyes to other relationships. Perhaps today we could take a fresh and appreciative look at those whose affection is important to us. Let’s delight in those aspects of those relationships which are comfortingly familiar and be on the look out, however long we’ve known them, for new ways in which our friends or loved ones can surprise and delight us.

“Stamp out Apathy” says the advert. Above it, a human figure is outlined in chalk and a man is stamping on it. Christian Aid go on to say that this week of collecting will show there is no need for apathy because even small amounts raised change lives. Is the implication right that apathy is caused by a sense of powerlessness to really change anything?

That certainly is one cause. But there is a deeper malaise which leads to people not feeling concern for the poor, and that’s the fact that in our generation, people often don’t feel anything. Modern life is often so overwhelming and so demanding that we create a protective shell against our own emotions for fear they also will be too much for us and for others. Perhaps part of the attraction of “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!” is that of watching other people’s emotional trauma. Unwilling to be in touch with the feelings inside us, we compensate by, at a safe distance, getting inside other people’s.

Today we could experience a huge range of emotions if we let ourselves really respond to what we see and hear around us. We might fear that dealing with them would sap our energy. But often, feeling our feelings, on the contrary, is energising and can give us renewed concern to act to change situations which distress us.