“Indifference” is an important worldly concept, one that inherently recognizes the idea of righteousness or lack thereof in one’s being.
Keep in mind that “indifference” can be seen from two different perspectives, one negative and one positive. Webster’s Dictionary, the negative definition, notes that indifference is a state of being where there is an “inherent lack of concern” or “lack of interest”, and “apathy” toward something. The Jesuit idea of indifference is very different and can be positive. One is not so much apathetic but unconditionally accepting. He attains a level of Christ consciousness to the point that he is able to become unaffected by the results of the action in any given circumstance in life. Indifference is a sort of emotional detachment as a result of his understanding and openness to God’s will for one’s life.
I would like to address the first definition of indifference and lead into the idea the Jesuits put forth in the second.
I used to believe “one’s greatest inhumanity to another is the indifference to the other”. Now I believe that “one’s greatest inhumanity is one’s indifference to his own soul”.
There’s a big distinction there. It’s difficult to love someone else if you do not love yourself. One who lacks the ability to acknowledge love for self is merely living on a primal level of acting and reacting to stimuli. It is one of the most problematic expressions of discord in our world today and results in some of our biggest problems. Isaiah said, “Turn away from mortals, who have only breath in their nostrils, for of what account are they?” (Isaiah 2: 22)
I was speaking with a retired psychologist friend about this who worked at a VA hospital. He was telling me about a soldier who was indifferent to the killing of another human being. My friend told me that this blatant disregard for immorality created more problems for this individual in his life, and he couldn’t see that. One who refuses to acknowledge immorality creates a chasm in the heart. This repression of morality was planted deep into the sub-conscious level, thus creating a sense of separation from God that led to more problems. Moral indifference creates trauma in the heart, which blinds him from seeing the presence of God.
On the other hand, one who lives with the knowledge of love in the heart and is actively cultivating the fertile ground of love is altering his consciousness and awakened to Christ consciousness. He is open to the profound gifts of the spirit and God’s presence in the soul of this world.
One of the central points of Jesus’s life is his message of love. Love is the foundation of creating God’s Kingdom on earth, and Jesus’ goal was to announce this message in every corner of the world. He asserted that love begins with the individual. An individual’s inability to love one’s self is a lack of recognition of goodness in his heart. Jesus opens the eyes of others to the power of God functioning within one’s heart – the power of love. This is what he taught to his disciples. Jesus then sent his disciples forth to help people see the power of love to heal and ultimately change a society as a result of one’s openness to God and other.
St. Francis of Assisi made a conscious attempt through his prayer to call forth the idea of being a channel. All peace and understanding begins with the individual and extends to the community. An individual cultivates a relationship with God and in turn becomes the instrument for others and brings’ God’s love to others.
St. Ignatius builds on this concept in the 16thCentury through formal application of this premise. In the “Spiritual Exercises”, “principles and foundations”, Ignatius articulates being aware of Christ consciousness. He notes:
“Man is created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.
From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.
For this is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end of which we are created”.
Ignatius knew that it all begins with our concern for being with God and learning who we are in relationship to God. His exercises challenge us to be present to the act of life and God’s participation in it. Through our conviction we elevate our perspective and this helps us rise above adversity.
So often we become indifferent to our spiritual needs. We are beaten by the world and we live to survive. We are burned out by our work that seems meaningless and like we’re running to stand still in life. We are beaten by the problems of relationships and having to answer to someone we don’t respect or they don’t respect us. We are beaten by seeming disregard for what we do – people take what we do for granted. We have no time to open our hearts to others and serve others because we are in the act of maintaining ourselves. This is no way to exist.
We cannot be indifferent to the reality of our mortality. We cannot be indifferent to the moral consequences of our actions. We cannot be indifferent to our own salvation.
We must make the time to open our hearts to the word of blessing. We must not be indifferent to our souls! We must not be indifferent to recognizing our humility and something greater than ourselves that is pulsating in this world – beating in the soul of this world and beating in our hearts. Our attunement to this heartbeat of Christ is the rhythm of our lives that brings us to life.