The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference

Page 10 of the Sydney Morning Herald (February 19) contains the headlines “Troop increase will put pressure on allies” and “US tipped to ask for more Australians” .

One waits until half way through the focus on likely increases of US and Australian troops for Afganistan, to see the words “the United Nations announced that civilian casualties in Afganistan rose by 40%  last year to the highest level since the US-led invasion in late 2001. More than half the casualties were from roadside bombs and suicide attacks by militants but many were because of airstrikes and other actions by forces battling the Taliban, the report said.  Last week five children were killed in predawn fighting between Australian special operations troops and Taliban guerillas in the country’s south.  The UN report said the death toll among civilians rose from 1523 in 2007 to 2118 last year”.

.. Page 10 of the paper .. bland report of the civilian deaths .. although at least the anxiety of an Afgan girl waiting to receive food and blankets is mirrored in a photo.

Meanwhile, a Sri Lankan friend last week complained about the lack of apparent interest or concern in the press for the Sri Lankan children and other civilians caught in deadly fire.. including in a hospital.

It brought to mind the lines of Elie Wiesel about indifference.

“There is nothing worse in life than indifference. Indifference to evil is evil and at times worse than evil…”
“The opposite of love is not hate but indifference.
The opposite of knowledge is not ignorance but indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness but indifference.
The opposite of life is not death but indifference because he or she who is indifferent is actually dead without knowing it.”“In a moral society the first lesson is also the last—you must fight indifference. Whenever you fight and whatever you fight, ultimately you have fought indifference.”

 Source: Elie Wiesel, “Building a Moral Society”, ‘Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture’ DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, 21 September 1989. 

An inspiring talk from Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, can be seen in this Lecture at UC Santa Barbara  He weaves in his thoughts on indifference from the 27 minute mark of “An evening with Elie Wiesel”.

Irshad Manji praises Elie Wiesel’s concern for all humanity, including specifically the Muslims of Bosnia in her blog item Why I love Prague and Elie Wiesel.

…The perils of selective indifference …

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