The Opposite of Love
The 2017-2018 school year is upon us. Some classes started last week while some begin tomorrow. Though January is the beginning of the calendar year, the proverbial school calendar dominates families with school age children. Children, what am I saying? My daughter Kelli is twenty-one years old and we still tangled with her summer research studies as well as her Fall senior schedule at University of Houston just to get a week of vacation in. Ultimately, we all know it’s worth it, but it can certainly cramp our style.
So, what does the new school year offer our children at this time of turmoil in our world? It offers a safe haven for which our kids can learn about the freedom our country has fought hard for and sustained, a freedom we should never take for granted. I’m reminded of a 3rd grade class I substituted for more than a decade ago. Kelli happened to be in the class that day. We finished up the required work from the teacher’s lesson plans, so I had a few minutes to have an open discussion with the class. I posed the question to them, “What is the opposite of love?” Their hands shot up in the air signaling me to call on them for the answer. When I selected a student to answer, she shouted, “hate”. I thanked her for her answer but said that wasn’t the answer I was looking for. Immediately most hands went down and the look of confusion appeared on many of the students’ faces. Another brave soul raised his hand and said, “anger”. Again, I thanked him for his answer but explained it was not the answer I was looking for. By this point, I had stumped the class. Eventually, one of the students asked what the correct answer was. I told them the opposite of love is one step below hate, and that step is fear. I knew then, I had some explaining to do.
The Brazilian philosopher, Paul Freire, said it best, “The opposite of love as we many times or almost always think, is hatred, but it’s the fear of love, and the fear to love is the fear of being free. Love softens you, fear hardens you. Love opens the universe, fear isolates you in yourself. At exploringyourmind.com, they take it one step further explaining our fear of love stems from our lack of love for ourselves or lack of self-esteem. They conclude if we cannot learn to love ourselves, how is it possible to learn to love others?
In Christian traditions under Mark 12:28-31 (NIV) Jesus is asked which commandment is the most important. “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” No limits or exceptions were listed in His words.
Ask yourself this week, what is the message you’re sending your children to school with this week. Is it a message of love or a message of fear? In the end, Love is all that matters.
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Sunday, August 27, 2017.