The Housemartins were a great band. As a fourteen year old, their 1986 debut album London 0 Hull 4 had a big influence on me, and not just because the album cover encouraged cardigan wearing. I remember opening the album cover and reading the inscription ‘Take Jesus, Take Marx, Take Hope’ and thinking ‘I never heard that in Sunday School before’. I was hooked – and a few years later that album was one of the main reasons why I decided to go to Hull University. (well, to be honest, the fact it was the only place that accepted me also slightly affected my decision…)
Anger and Idealism
The Housemartins’ were not happy with the state of Thatcher’s Britain and they sang about the individualism, fear and selfishness that was destroying communities and the unemployment and poverty that lay behind it. They combined cracking tunes with lyrics which were full of anger about the way the world was along with idealism about the way it should be. It was resistance and renewal – with some great jangly guitar thrown in.
Think for a minute
One track from that album was Think for a Minute (check out the video with [the future] Fat Boy Slim on the piano):
“Something’s going on, a change is taking place
Children smiling in the street have gone without a trace
This street used to be full, it used to make me smile
And now it seems that everyone is walking single file
….And nothing I could say
Could ever make them see the light
Now apathy is happy that
It won without a fight”
Apathy is happy that it won without a fight. The Housemartins’ lyrics are even more relevant today. Too often in the face of negative influences in socety, apathy does win and without even a fight our communities are damaged and broken further. Apathy is one of the obstacles to overcome if we are to effectively fight against Global Personals and their marriage break up websites.
Apathy is not always silent. It may care about things in words, it might be angry about things and label them ‘a disgrace’ but not actually do anything about it. It can be good at jumping on backwagons but hopeless at getting them moving. Authentic faith should never lead to apathy – but lets be honest, too often, a safe, conformist kind of religion actually encourages it. However large the congregations, churches where people only listen to sermons, discuss issues and sing hymns but never get round to actually doing anything practical, can never help transform society. ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what its says’ (James 1:22). However much we talk about things, if we don’t act, we simply help maintain the status quo.
Global Personals Campaign update
But despite all this, I have been really encouraged by the way our campaign against has been going – so a big thanks to all of you who have contacted Global Personals about their websites. I read some really powerful emails that people have sent to Ross Williams, CEO of Global Personals and also to many of your MPs.
Most excitingly we have made some great local contacts in Maidenhead and Windsor (where the company are based) and are talking with them about some local action. So even if things don’t look dramatic, resistance to these websites is growing and I feel confident that we will win this fight.
I know there are loads of important causes to fight and issues to battle against – and my day job involves many vital issues around addressing poverty and homelessness. But we have a chance with this campaign to ensure that apathy does not win on this issue – that we can defend what is good and right and not let cynical money-making dominate everything in our society. Thanks for your support and lets keep going!
Five easy campaign actions you can take today:
- Like the campaign’s facebook page
- Read the Open Letter to Ross Williams, CEO of Global Personals
- Phone Global Personals on 01753 27 12 80 or email them on email@example.com (please see here for a template email)
- Contact your MP to raise the issue with them and ask them to contact Ed Vaizey, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Communication and Creative Industries
- Post any comments or action taken on the facebook page or as a comment on this blog to encourage others
4 thoughts on “Apathy is happy (when it wins without a fight)”
Jonny – you’ve managed to quote one of the great bands of the 80s – loving your work. I knew Paul Heaton was a good lyricist, but hadn’t banked on him still being so relevant today.
Apathy is an interesting word. For some you could replace it with Pragmatism – will my actions make any difference? For others you could replace it with Fear – the fear of reprisal or ridicule.
And just how far is ‘getting involved’? And who get’s to be the moral arbiter actions? After all (and sorry for the lazy analogy) one man’s terrorist is another man’s Mandela.
One solution to apathy – in all it’s guises – is clear leadership. People who stand for something tangible; who have a clear, alternative vision and are brave enough to speak their mind. Few are capable of doing that; and yet those brave few invariably provide the impetus and permission for others to share their views.
Wise words Jase! You’re right that ‘pragmatism’ and ‘fear’ often do hold us back.
I think this is where vision is so important – a conviction which is strong enough to overcome the fear and the ‘conformist pragmatism’. Mandela could see something clearer than most and banked his life on the conviction he held about the injustice of apartheid – plus, as you say, he had the leadership skills to mobilize and inspire. I think leadership, which is rooted in a vision of how things could be rather than simply ego and self-interest, is what is required more than ever. I think its why individuals, like Mandela, Tutu, Martin Luther King or Gandhi, become the key figure which represent whole movements. And its interesting that often, not always, these are often people of faith.
Thanks mate and love to Gretel and everyone in Sydney!