Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Opposite of Love is...

O.K., I've heard it and seen it posted too many times for my pleasure.   Now, I've just got to address it.

The opposite of love is not indifference or apathy.

It's not.  Not in the least.  I really don't care what Elie Wiesel says.  Here's his quote, by the way:

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."
  (Oct. 1986)

It was Leo Buscaglia who said:

I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate — it's apathy. It's not giving a damn.

At least he got the definition of apathy correct. 

Indifference = apathy = not giving a damn = not caring.

Aha!  You might say, love is to care.  Love is indeed the opposite of apathy or indifference.

Hold on a minute.  To hate is to care as well just in a very different way.

For you see, love is a particular type of caring.  Love hopes for the best for another person or object or institution.  St. Paul articulates this clearly in the great love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:

4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.

And the opposite of this kind of caring is not "not caring."  Far from it.  The opposite of this kind of caring (love) is to desire the worst possible outcome for another person, object, or institution.  Peope who hate hope for just sort of a thing.

I've got a lot of respect for Elie Wiesel, but he's wrong in trying to redefine the opposite of love as indifference.  Stick with your Thesaurus.  It's right.  The opposite of love, is hate.

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