Late on Tuesday afternoon, I attended a funeral at an Episcopalian church. About halfway through the service, the minister said something that filtered through my brain and triggered a thought storm. "The opposite of love," he said, "is not hate. The opposite of love is apathy." I'm sure that I have heard that expression before yesterday. (The cynical part of me thinks that I saw it on a bumper sticker, which is why I didn't really think about it. It has that bumper sticker slogan ring to it that makes it easy to dismiss in the wrong circumstances.) As I sat in the church listening to the sounds of subdued crying, I could not help think about Sofia Kossak-Szczucka, the raving anti-Semite who saved hundreds, if not thousands, of Polish Jews during the Holocaust. She called Jews the "political, economic and ideological enemies of Poland," but she risked her life - and called upon other Polish Catholics to do so as well - to save them. My mind still struggles with the contradiction in her words and actions, and I attributed it to religious zealotry. But I think it really is that her hate was so strong it was like love, and as she said, "Those who are silent in the face of murder – become partners of the killer. Those who do not condemn – approve." In other words, the opposite of love is apathy.

Of course, tragedies come in large and small scale. My newly acquired knowledge won't help the family and friends of the person whose funeral I attended. I hope that they are able to find peace in their quest to accept their loss, just as I seek to do so in my much more abstract journey to answer the larger questions that loom in the legacy of the loss of people I never knew.

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