“The opposite of love isn’t hate,” Counselor Sandy said several months back, “it’s indifference.”
Those words have come to mind a few times since the wisdom was imparted.
The opposite of love isn’t hate.
Indifference isn’t a word I commonly use and since my understanding of the word was simply “to not care,” I couldn’t quite put Sandy’s words into perspective.
And, honestly, I’ve been so preoccupied with graduation and family commitments I haven’t devoted much time to figuring it out.
As providence has it, last week Warren picked the following fortune cookie for me: “A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.”
That’s right, I thought, we can’t change our world when people don’t care to change it.
At that moment I didn’t connect my counselor’s insight with the cookie’s message.
I didn’t connect those two things when Thursday’s session came back around to Sandy’s imparted wisdom: The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.
That night, however, when I opened my checkbook and read the little slip of paper that floated down onto my desk, those two events collided and took on a life of their own.
Journeyer, you know how it is when something is hard or unknowingly causes conflict? You find ways to avoid it?
I’ve spent three days working on this post in some form or another…thinking about it…researching indifference…writing it…
Today I’m finding plenty of distractions…from watching Fave and Warren teach a seminar to playing Words With Friends and counting Candy Crush lives…
Guess that’s better than counting sheep…
Seems indifference difficulties are to me what technical difficulties are to an electronic network…
Let’s begin by breaking it down, shall we…
A Google search shows that indifference goes well beyond not caring.
Indifference has a cold feel, a disconnect that can separate us from any energy or entity we can imagine.
For the person like me who has empathic tendencies, who connects with life on a deeply spiritual level and senses the energy around her, indifference is a nemesis.
No wonder I’ve been experiencing so much conflict.
Warren and I were talking about this subject during our five hour drive to this weekend’s event.
For the first time in my life I have recognized an area where I have been slowly slipping into the abyss that is indifference…
And I don’t like it.
Not one iota.
Lucky for me and for all of you who see yourselves in this post, awareness of anything is half the battle.
If we choose love, then we can ask ourselves the tough questions that will lead us to the source we are running from, afraid of, ignoring, or minimizing.
I have a great fear of rejection, one that I recently realized is even better pronounced as a fear of abandonment.
Thanks to the insight of our marriage counselor, I can now trace the indifference I am struggling with to that long-standing and deep-seated fear.
I didn’t intentionally write “choose love” above, which leads me to believe that at our core, we do recognize that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but is, indeed, indifference…
Love and hate each incite something within us, they quicken our heart rate, cause our palms to sweat, spur us into action, even if that movement is merely dreaming about date night or preparing for a fight.
Indifference says, Yeah? Not my problem. So what. Whatever.
Indifference is the empty vessel that love or hate fill to overflowing.
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor is credited with the insight… The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.
Was it indifference that led thousands of witnesses to ignore the atrocities so many people were enduring day and night?
Warren argued that the indifference of those who ignored the atrocities going on behind the walls they walked by every day could have had more to do with fear than apathy.
Fear is a great motivator for turning the other cheek, and yet I wonder just how many were lulled into a state of indifference by that very emotion.
Had the masses felt enough love for the lives being destroyed, would they not have combined their resources and revolted against the hatred and violence?
I cannot say for I wasn’t there, but I can definitely feel the effects of indifference, and that of fighting to stay connected to compassion and empathy and any form of emotional currency.
One of the things I’ve been fighting to help people understand for years is that we can hate a person’s actions but we don’t hate the person.
If we look hard enough we can always find something we like about another person, even when we disapprove of individual actions.
I have often heard adults and children alike exclaim, “I hate him/her!”
Again, I say, when we focus on hating the person, then we are in essence giving ourselves permission to enter into that world of indifference: I’m never going to like her and that’s just the way it is.
But when we acknowledge that it is the action we dislike, we leave the door open to loving emotions such as sympathy, tolerance, patience, and acceptance.
Today, as I returned from a lunch run during the seminar break, I spotted this graffiti on an abandoned building in downtown Baltimore: When all else fails, LOVE MORE.
Indeed, when Indifference threatens to rob us of our humanity or shut down our soul, let us remember to act, to rail against this thief with the greatest weapon of all: Love.
A different world cannot be built by indifferent people, but we can change our circumstances by choosing to love.
Until we meet again, yours in hope, healing, happiness, and love…