B: Since I’ve been talking about love, it may be necessary to clarify it a bit. There are some who feel that the opposite of love is not hatred, but apathy. I believe the reasoning behind this notion is that both love and hatred seem to connote involvement of deep emotions, and that it seems often the case that one can go from love to hatred remarkably quickly, as in the case of a jilted lover. You wouldn’t see someone change from being consumed with love for another suddenly replace that with an attitude of “whatever” toward the other after their breakup, would you?
A: Well, I suppose it could happen…
B: Obviously it depends on one’s definitions of love and hatred. Count me in the camp of those who continue to insist that love and hatred are opposites. For one thing, in the example of the jilted lover, I don’t believe that the person with a broken heart really hates the other. On the contrary, the reason he continues to be upset is because he still harbors the love for the “offending girlfriend,” and the sudden withdrawal of her presence, which had up till then been nearly constant, may seem a bit harsh. He might then proceed to commit deeds that are consistent with someone who hates her, yes, but his reasons for those actions wouldn’t be due to a hatred of her, but rather more to a hatred of an action of hers.
Let’s have a less dramatic example. Would you rather have a neighbor who loves you, is indifferent towards you, or hates you?
A: I’d go with the indifferent type. Live and let live, I say.
B: You might say that probably because you think what I mean by a neighbor who “loves” you is one who is a bit too interested in your life – you know, the kind that keeps bringing you plates of unwanted leftovers, talks to you too much, and in general just won’t leave you alone. Buddy, if a neighbor truly loved you, he’d want you to be happy, which means he would be considerate of your privacy, and be careful about when to knock on your door and when to leave you alone. An indifferent neighbor would just ignore you, both when you want him to and when you don’t. And a hating neighbor will threaten you, verbally and physically abuse you, your property, and your family, and generally hound you constantly until his hatred of you is satisfied, which may never happen.
You’ll notice that sometimes the indifferent one is a good neighbor, and sometimes he isn’t; but the hateful one is never a good neighbor. On the contrary, the loving neighbor is always a good neighbor. In this example, then, it makes sense to consider love and hate as opposites. And so it is in general, I say – by the following
Definition (that I will adopt). Hatred is the absence of love.
It is indeed true that actions of indifference may in some cases be tantamount to hatred. So sometimes indifference is the opposite of love – in exactly those instances when indifference equals hatred. Henceforth, then, I will classify any action that is not made out of love as one of hatred.