The Institute For Living

Love and Its Opposite

by on Feb.09, 2010, under Core Values, Relationships, Spirituality

Many people think that the opposite of love is hatred, for hatred seeks to harm the one whom love would uplift. Others say that the opposite of love is indifference, for indifference ignores the other person altogether. While it is true that both hatred and indifference oppose love, they are each too small in scale to serve as love’s polar opposite. The true force that opposes love is self-centeredness.

It is self-centeredness that responds with hatred when another person hurts us or seems different from us. It is self-centeredness that responds with indifference toward those who cannot or will not benefit us. One may look at each of the “seven deadly sins”, and each of them is rooted in selfishness: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath. All things that stand against love are rooted in selfishness. All things founded in love require the taming of one’s own self-centeredness.

If we wish to become better human beings, then, our most essential task is to learn to get over ourselves. We need to truly get into our hearts that the world does not and should not revolve around us. The Golden Rule is a good starting place; when we manage to treat others the way we wish to be treated, we greatly improve our lives and the lives of those around us. The greater challenge, however, is to internalize that rule, to love others the way we wish to be loved. That is the true key to reaching our human potential.

When we do learn to live in love, amazing results can happen. People like Mother Theresa, Gandhi and Jesus all show the power of a life dedicated to love. While most of us are unlikely ever to attain that level of achievement in the area of love, we do have the ability to change our own corners of the world for the better. By tempering our own egos and developing our capacities for compassion, we can build stronger families, more productive workplaces, and healthier communities. It’s all a matter of love.

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