Acedia or Sloth – A Systemic Failure




Acedia (Latin, acedia) (from Greek ??????) is the neglect to take care of something that one should do. It is translated to apatheticlistlessness; depression without joy. It is similar to melancholy, although acedia describes the behaviour, while melancholy suggests the emotion producing it. In early Christian thought, the lack of joy was regarded as a willful refusal to enjoy the goodness of God and the world God created; by contrast, apathy was considered a refusal to help others in time of need. (Source Wikipedia)

Sloth on a personal level is something which is not something I want to touch.  It is between a man and his maker.  Acedia at a macro level is something that bothers me.  The Aussies have coined a phrase for this malaise that really is all pervasive.  They call it NIMBY or “not in my backyard.”  So if something does not affect me, my family and friends, I don’t care.

This is what happened when Hitler started singling out the Jews.  Remember the infamous star they forced the Jews to  wear on their sleeves?  No one protested, no one questioned this strange form of singling them out.  It was because it affected only the Jews.  Later on, when the anti jew campaign gathered strength it made it so easy for them to pick them out and gas them.


I see this happening to us at every level.  Someone is being ill treated in her marital home, we refuse to step in, even though it bothers us.  We will discuss it, “The family that lives in the corner house is not good.  They don’t treat the girl right.”  But we don’t step in.  What can we do?  After all, its not in my backyard …

We catch a neighbour’s son rolling a joint or in the company of someone who looks like a punk, we turn a blind eye. NIMBY …

Someone takes a bribe, someone offers it … we shrug and move on, living our lives, only to find out much later that this has become endemic in the system.  Then we grumble, we protest, we curse the system.

One snake, it is said pollutes the waters.  One apathetic response to injustice can help make the injustice ‘custom”.

That is what has happened to the dowry problem.  That is what has happened to the graft problem.  No one raised a voice when these things started.  And now nothing moves without some “kharcha paani” as bribe is euphemistically called.  You want a licence … your kid wants to do his medicine or engineering … you are expected to shell out.

Recently I have been seeing and reading about universities that deliberately fail the students so that they can get hefty bribes to pass those kids.  And no, these are bright kids that can get pass marks easily.

I suppose the first time this happened, every one shrugged and turned a blind eye.

This is sloth at a grand scale

It is Acedia

A Systemic Failure


20 thoughts on “Acedia or Sloth – A Systemic Failure

  1. This is an interesting and well written post. You’re right. Too many people in this world turn a blind eye to what does not directly concern them. Actually, they turn a blind eye to what concerns them too! People are just too stupid to know what’s coming down is about them, and they won’t listen to common reasoning either. It amazes me how money that repeats a lie create followers.

    •  @jlansky True.  I dont mean we have to campaign and march in protest .. that requires time and money.  We are not rich enough to give up jobs and invest in such things.  Simple baby steps, a letter to the local newspaper, a phone call to concerned authorities, and it could snowball into an effective campaign …

  2. Very true .. as long as it doesnot happen to us we dont do anything .. things will start to work fine if we all spoke and interferred when we see something wrong happen .. 
    you are right it is A SYSTEMIC FAILURE…. 

  3. It’s a fine line to know when “helping” is not just being “nosy” or  crossing the line of privacy.

  4. People are often far too scared to step in and take any kind of action. Scared they will end up in more trouble than the person they might be trying to help. It takes more courage than most people have today, to stand up and be counted. I find the older I get, the less scared I am, more likely to speak up… Not sure if that is a good thing or if I am just heading for a big fall *smile*

    •  @Gillmojo I know, I find myself jumping in more often now.  The option is that we ignore blatant wrong doings, and that I cant any more.  

  5. This is a relevant post, indeed. Today’s citizens are much less apt to jump to the aid or defense of anyone in need. It’s become almost an apathetic world. Whatever happens isn’t my concern. Far too common and extremely sad. I know that with age comes the desire to right a wrong and say what needs to be said and I am not sure in this world that is wise, but I find myself more and more brazen with age.
    Really good job.

    •  @JoHeroux Exactly.  With age I have become stronger and more confident.  That makes me vocal about things I would have let slide at a younger age.

  6. Powerful post. You’re right, some people have become very narrowly focused only on what directly affects them. It’s sad.

  7. Tis true where we have arrived, people will turn away.  I can’t say it’s wrong or right as it depends on the moment and the person, yes?  Although, you’ve left me thinking,

    •  @BrendaMoguez You know, there are no absolutes in this world, just perceptions.  So wrong or right depends a lot on situations, personalities and other variables.  But Sloth as one of the deadly sins … it means that this is a malaise that has been in our natures since ancient times, does it not?  

  8. Very great take on Sloth, I think this also comes form the fact that our sense of community is hindered by freeways, corporate shopping malls etc. It makes your “backyard” and inner circle smaller and you care less about those in your town. 

    •  @elizabethsheryl I think you are right.  Our worlds are shrinking … soon it will just be confined to a computer or TV screen if things go on as they are right now

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