Love, Hate, and Apathy

Art by Josh Benton

Art by Josh Benton

In this day and age, it seems that many people think that hate is the opposite of love. Over the last year our nation has seen the result of years of anger, frustration, racism gone amok (though I don’t think it could anything but), and much, much hate. Of course, we’re quick to point out hate, or at least what we think is hate. If someone doesn’t agree with you, your lifestyle choice, or even treats you a bit differently than others, it has to be hate.  Since around 2008 the slogan “NO H8” has been around for one cause or another.

For many, the antidote to hate is love. Hate is the antithesis to love. In fact, we declare in many ways that love drives out darkness not hate. Yes. That is correct. Only thing is, is that in saying that love is the antidote to hate, that hate is the antithesis to love states that hate is the opposite of love. That is not true.

To state as such means that love and hate cannot coexist at the same time. It is stating that in fact hate is the absence of love as evil is the absence of good. The thing is, is that love and hate can coexist at the same time. Ever have a love/hate relationship with something or someone (like the internet or Windows 10…love that it’s not Vista or Windows 8 but at the same time hate that it’s Windows 10)? Love is a state of being and passion. So is hate. Love is an emotion we have, it is also an internal response. So is hate.

In fact, love can be found in the midst of hate and hate can be found in the midst of love. They intermingles sometimes, binding together like salt and water (not saying that’s good but that it’s true). We have a strong love for someone or something or for some cause yet respond in hate to those who attack that which we love.

Love is not the opposite of hate and hate is not the opposite of love.

Apathy is.

Apathy is the lack of emotion. It is the lack of passion. It is the act of just not caring at all. With love, you are fully involved and passionate, you deeply care, you embrace and encourage. The same is with hate (but, like in the bad way). In fact, as a follower of Jesus, I am to hate sin, hate what it does to me and what it does to others and what it does to this world. I am to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself yet I (along with everyone else admit or not) fall into hating God and our neighbor.

Art by Josh Benton

Art by Josh Benton

But we’re not told to be apathetic. In fact, we’re supposed to choose love or hate. We are to be hot or cold. We’re not to be apathetic. It’s like lukewarm bathwater–you neither recoil from shrinking or enter in for relaxation.

The problem, though, which we are facing today is not hate growing in this world but apathy. We just don’t care after a while. It’s not sensational. It’s not at the forefront of things.

In April of 2014 276 girls were kidnapped by Boko Horam. It is believed that some escaped and that 219 remained. The interwebs erupted with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. This went on for a while until it stopped. The girls are still gone, many married off and forced into life situations they did not want. We went from hate towards Boko Horam and love for the missing girls to just nothing. Nothing in the news. Nothing on the interwebs. Nothing but a lack of emotion and sensation and passion. In other words, apathy.

In January 2015 gunman entered the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and killed a number of the employees, targeting specific people. Again, the news outlets carried it around, the interwebs erupted once more with the hashtag #JeSuisCharile. We were angry at the attack of the essential western freedom of the press. We hated what happened. We showed love and solidarity with France. And then after a while, it all went quite. No more emotion. No more outrage. No more outpouring of love. Nothing. In other words, apathy.

Sadly, I can go on and on, and even more so about Christians. Thanksgiving is in a few weeks. Once again, the interwebs are filled with people talking about blessings and being thankful each day for something. And then come the holiday season churches do food drives, volunteer at soup kitchens, donate clothes, and deliver gifts to impoverished children.

And then January hits, credit card bills are due from Christmas, and the church and Christians go back into the rut of life. The same people we showed the love of Jesus to during the holidays are still in need of food, of clothing, of toiletries, yet don’t receive it from the very ones who said they wanted to show the love of Christ in what they do. The love goes away. The hate towards poverty, hunger, and lacking goes away. There is no more emotions left, just day to day stuff. In other words, apathy.

Jesus says this to us

My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” John 15:12-13

Where’s the love towards those in need in March? Where’s the hate towards sin, poverty, hurt, pain, broken relationships, hunger, and death that was present in February that we had in November and December?

The holidays are coming. We talk about loving our neighbor. We speak out against hate in this world. Yet we wind up living in apathy instead, the antithesis, the opposite, of the very love we proclaim and say we live.

Where are you living apathy instead of love? They cannot coexist you can have one or the other.

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