Hate is not the opposite of love…

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The existential philosopher Rollo May maintained a different perspective of opposites, as stated above. I like his take on the love/hate continuum.

We aren’t necessarily meant to love everyone – love having a different degree of emotion depending on the situation – but not caring about a person’s plight, not giving them the time of day or a second or first thought seems cruel.

Merriam Webster defines apathy as follows:

  • impassiveness or indifference

The Oxford dictionary provides this definition:

  • lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern

And finally, Dictionary.com offers this take:

  • lack of interest in or concern for things others find moving; freedom from emotion of any kind

Ugh, all those definitions leave me feeling emotionally bereft, and being on the receiving end of someone’s apathy would be devastating, wouldn’t it? The following example is extreme, but relevant nonetheless:

A man falls down on a crowded sidewalk and each person who encounters him walks over or around him without offering assistance.

Okay, like me you’re thinking, “No way would I do that, I would offer whatever help I could so I am not guilty of such behavior.” But what about the time I tried to avoid a particular neighbor because said neighbor always waylaid me in conversation for what I considered an interminable amount of time? Yep, I did that several weeks ago when an elderly neighbor turned the corner onto my street when I was at the curb to pick up my mail. With my head down I retrieved the mail and quickly walked back into my house.

Lordy I felt guilty, as I should have. I had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do, yet I didn’t allow this person an opportunity to engage in conversation with me – perhaps a much needed bit of socialization for her day. Five minutes out of my non-busy day to connect with someone…was that too much to ask? No, it was not. I have reformed since that time, seeking out opportunities to provide socially engaging respite for this woman and her canine companion. I didn’t like the Irene that previously ignored this neighbor; I don’t want to spend time with that Irene, ever again.

The cost of apathy is a far too high price to pay. I certainly cannot afford it.

Can you?



4 thoughts on “Hate is not the opposite of love…

    Betty said:
    March 7, 2022 at 11:00 am

    My mom always said to take time to speak with someone as you might be the only person he or she talks with that day. We all sometimes feel like just keeping to ourselves, and I’ve been guilty of it, too. But I hear my mom’s voice in my head! You are a kind person to want to do better. I know you will.

    Liked by 1 person

      Irene Olson responded:
      March 7, 2022 at 12:47 pm

      Betty, it was certainly not my proudest moment. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

      Liked by 1 person

    Jill Weatherholt said:
    March 7, 2022 at 10:17 am

    I think we are all guilty of looking away or acting like we didn’t see someone because we weren’t in the mood to engage with the person, or we thought we were too busy. Making time for others should be a priority in our day. Even if it’s five minutes, it could mean the world to the person on the receiving end. Great reminder, Irene!

    Liked by 1 person

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