Baseball has an interesting way to describe something that happens during one-sided games. If the team trailing by a lot of runs gets a runner on base in the final inning, the team that’s ahead will make no attempt to prevent him from stealing the next base. The runner jogs down to second base unchallenged.
Now, the runner doesn’t get credit for a stolen base. That wouldn’t be right — he got to the next base because of someone else’s inaction. He advanced because of others’ indifference. He was able to steal and move on because nobody cared enough to try to stop him.
And that’s how the play is officially scored — indifference. No stolen base. No credit for anything.
Indifference means we let something happen because we don’t consider it important. On a baseball field, indifference isn’t that big of a deal. Everywhere else, it is.
Indifference is one of the deciding factors in our world. Indifference is a co-conspirator with the evil in our world — domination, discrimination, cruelty, greed, poverty, violence, war, injustice, hatred. Those things flourish to the extent that we step back and allow them.
Sometimes we’re afraid to get involved. Maybe we just don’t care. Often we excuse ourselves from taking a stand by deciding that what’s going on around us is someone else’s problem. Or we pretend that things aren’t so bad and we don’t need to do anything.
And we choose indifference.
Our indifference creates an environment that allows small numbers of people to do horrendous things to large numbers of people. It allows those who revel in hatred and violence and selfishness to have their way.
Even when it’s clear that something is wrong, we find excuses to stay out of it: The powerful deserve to do whatever they want. Nobody’s really taking advantage of anybody else. If anyone is being abused, it’s their own fault. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s wrong, but let someone else deal with it. That’s just the way things are. I’ve got my own life to worry about. Everyone should have the freedom to do whatever they want.
Our indifference creates an environment that allows abuse and injustice to flourish. Our indifference sustains an environment that ensures that abuse and injustice will happen again and again.
Our great prophets in various religions have railed against indifference, demanding that people start to pay attention and work for change.
Jesus demanded that we get involved when we see someone who is hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed, imprisoned, sick, marginalized, forgotten, wounded, rejected. Don’t be like the two people who saw someone bleeding by the side of the road and reacted with indifference; be the one who stops and helps. The cost to being a follower: Give up your indifference. The same holds true in our other religions, too.
Each day, we’re challenged to choose between maintaining our indifference or getting involved. Like it or not, we have to decide whether we will enlist ourselves as the silent partners of those who bring so many awful things into the world.
Do we enable them and encourage them with our silence and our inaction? Or do we oppose them?