The Opposite of Love

Whether we want to admit it or not, bullying is a big part of our everyday lives. We see it all the time, at all different ages, in all situations and experiences. My niece is going through it now in pre-school, and although she can’t speak, I’m sure she’s wondering why the boys won’t let the other little girl play with them even when they let her join their group. We see news stories and YouTube videos of middle-school kids violently beating one another over friends, boyfriends or simply being accepted at school. We even see it between grown adults in the work place over salaries, status, positions and power.

Truth is, whether we help or join the cause, wish to condone it, or simply look the other direction, claiming to be an innocent bystander having no control over or no business in the situation, bullying is a real issue. And it’s happening all the time.

Of course one of the main questions surrounding the circumstances of these actions is revolved around focusing on a positive and effective solution to stop it. This is important. But personally being a victim of bullying throughout all stages of my own life, and watching those around me be victimized as well, what I explore more in-depth about the situation is not a solution, but finding a possible cause. The root of the problem, if you will. Why does it happen in the first place?

I find jealousy to be a prime motive. You know what they say; the grass is always greener on the other side, right? Wrong. But that’s what people think anyway. I once heard someone say that jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessing instead of your own. Could this possibly be true? Jealousy is an ugly disease. It can make a person sick—make his skin want to crawl, make his stomach turn, make his blood pressure hit new, high peaks. Perhaps that’s why we associate envy with the color green. After all, It’s not an appealing skin tone, you know.

The sorry fact is that most appearing confident, intelligent people would never admit to having that faint boiling point in their stomachs that rises slowly every so often when we hear something positive about another person. Why didn’t I get the promotion? I wish I could go away for two weeks. He doesn’t need the new car—but I do. So I can only chalk it up to the next best thing a step up from jealousy.

Hate is a strong word. Yet it’s a word we hear on a daily basis. I hated that movie. I hate that my mohito tastes like my gum. Goat cheese? On my salad? I hate it. Oh, that girl? She’s not designer fashionable forward. I hate her. But what people don’t realize is how greatly effective that word can have on the impacting of a person. It can send one into a quick, downward spiral. And what’s the result of that, you ask? Rock bottom.

I remember the first time I had my own run-in with the “h” word. I was a freshman in high school. It was September because I remember the air being crisp but warm. It was soccer season and the beginning of the school year, which meant new friends and, of course, upper classmen parties.

I came home from school one day a little upset. My mom met me at the front door wondering how my first week as a high school student went. It was fine, I told her. I got invited to a party. If you know my mother, you know she was not happy about the news.

“You’re not going,” she rather too quickly informed me.

“I don’t want to go anyway,” I remember saying. “So-and-so didn’t get invited.”

“What, why?” my mom asked. “You love her.”

“Yeah, well they don’t. They hate her.”

“They said that?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I asked why. They said they just did.”

My mother told me that day that every person I come across in life isn’t going to like me. They don’t have to have a reason. Some people just don’t like you. Not a fan. Not in their taste. But guess what? There’s nothing you can do about it. So you move on, and they move on, and so do your lives. Easier said than done for most people who can’t stand to hear that a person doesn’t like them. What did you ever do to them? Sometimes the answer is so simple that it boils down to one word: nothing.

Some say the opposite of love is hate. But I say that’s not true. At all. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. The feeling of nothing. You feel no emotion towards a person or a situation whatsoever. And sometimes, that’s even worse than hate, because when you hate someone or something, you still care. And there’s no really turning back, reversing the situation, letting a person into your life again. Once you cross the bridge of indifference, you’re pretty much done.

Yes, I’m not a certified doctor or a guidance counselor who can offer valid advice for anyone. But I am a voice. One of many who isn’t afraid to address the topic directly for myself and for those who are too scared to speak up or stand up and take charge for the sake of creating conflict. Or for those who simply don’t care enough about the bullies to bother wasting any amount of time on them. So I speak for them, because someone has to do it.

In turn, I find indifference to be a solid solution to bullying for myself. How can one hurt me if I genuinely don’t care? He’s not causing me harm or pain because there’s nothing there. I’m confident and happy in myself, in my life and in the people with whom I surround myself. And that’s all I can ask for in my life. If anything, I smile and shake my head. I pray for those who aren’t so much satisfied with their own lives.

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