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The three-headed hydra of Apathy, Envy and Fear has a message. Apathy says, “Everything’s fine.”

It’s time to check back in with the three-headed hydra of Apathy, Envy and Fear. Hydras, people of power and privilege, have been busy pushing our cities across the nation into a state of emotional paralysis. Some might say we have become a society of witnesses to things going very wrong very quickly.

From our mobiles we watch the news and wonder how we got to this place where those asking for social justice are pulled off streets by the feds into unmarked vans. That can’t be right, right?

The hydra head of Apathy likes it this way. Watch. Give a sigh. Wish it were not so. Then get back to binge watching Netflix. I can relate. Just reading five headlines from The Guardian (US edition) is enough to make me stream in something light-hearted like Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Does anything matter?

I sit here staring at my screen wondering. Does writing matter? Do people still read op-eds or blogs? And if so, what impact does it have? Even if one was morally outraged by events, what does one do? How safe would it be to attend a protest, or start one, in these volatile times? We can flip that last question. How safe is it to remain passive?

Welcome to the Apathy Evaluation Scale

I wanted to see if there was a way to measure one’s apathy. And of course there is. This particular assessment tool was developed by Dr. Robert Marin in 1991. According to my sources on the world wide web, the Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES) was the first method developed to measure apathy in clinical populations.

If you care to, for each statement, circle the answer that best describes your thoughts, feelings, and activity in the past 4 weeks.

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

Not at all — Slightly — Somewhat — A lot

What does it all mean?

None of this is easy. Each of us has to find our way through this unprecedented global event that’s turned into a national nightmare. For those of us paying attention, we can see we are at a pivotal and crucial moment. Years from now, young people ask how we spent the first months of the pandemic and economic free fall, with calls for social justice met with federally-sanctioned intimidation. Did we sit back or rise up. Did we mobilize or self-medicate? Did we unite or isolate? I am working on my response. What’s yours?

*The future is what we make it. Join the evolution.

Please excuse any typos as I construct an article at 3am on only one cup of Joe. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. If one of my illustrations looks like a real human or three-headed hydra, that’s total coincidence. Words and images ©Dominic Cappello but share with everyone you know. Questions? The Plan Forward awaits you here: www.tenvitalservices.org

Note: The Apathy Evaluation Scale was developed by Robert S. Marin, M.D. Development and validation studies are described in RS Marin, RC Biedrzycki, S Firinciogullari: “Reliability and Validity of the Apathy Evaluation Scale,” Psychiatry Research, 38:143–162, 1991. This self-administered survey is not intended to serve as a professional assessment. For questions about one’s physical or behavioral health, consult a professional health care provider as soon as possible.

A NY Times bestselling author, social justice activist, Oprah guest, co-author of Attack of the Three-Headed Hydras, 100% Community and Anna, Age Eight.

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