“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Eliezer Wiesel (1928-2016), Romanian-born American writer, professor, human rights and political activist, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor.
This is the second quotation on the little postcard I purchased at the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo. As for all the posts I’ve written the process has started with a long time mulling over what I want to write but this one, which is actually my hundredth post, took longer than most. The words are simple enough but the meaning behind them is so profound and it reminds me of how key language and critical thinking are to understanding and behaviour.
Whilst all three words, ‘love’ ‘hate’ and ‘indifference’ are all nouns that very much reflect the subjectivity of whoever uses them there is something about ‘indifference’ that, for me, conjures up a more solid and recognisable quality. For example, a person may claim to ‘hate’ someone or something but it doesn’t necessarily mean they will do anything and the same goes for love plus there are many ways of doing love and hate but indifference means there is definitely going to be nothing happening. And, here, perhaps is the nub of what Wiesel, who endured and survived the Nazi concentration camps means. Somehow, the level of disconnect, disaffection, alienation and non-caring is much more unpalatable and seems inherently inhuman.
It follows then that anything that reduces or stops caring, stops authentic being or real relationship that, by definition, involves personal and emotional investment, should be resisted at all costs. For me, there are a number of aspects of life these days that would be on my list of experiences of which I would be wary and try to avoid or minimise:
1. The use of social media in place of actualinteraction with other people
2. The cult of celebrity
3. The prioritisation of commerce over humane pursuits
4. The commercialisation of people’s private lives, pregnancy, parenting and family life
5. The pathologisation of natural human emotions
6. The medicalisation of health arising from and resulting in diagnosis rather than preventative and holistic approaches to health and well-being
7. The generally pessimistic and negative view of different stages of life such as adolescence and older age
8. Government and management policy and practices that takes no account of relationships and emotions
9. The reduction and quantification of the interacting and dynamic and multiple factors involved in complex human phenomena and processes
My list is not comprehensive but it covers a lot of what I care about, which is why I write this blog and in my own way, try to take a stand.