There’s a saying that indifference is worse than hatred, because hatred has a fine line dividing it from love, while indifference is just, well, nothing. Although indifference is much less likely to cause murder (yet it can very well allow murder to happen), there is a ring of truth to that.
In my bitter, antisocial days, I actually kind of wanted to be hated. I wanted to be known as the head “b-word;” I wanted to be intimidating and mean, to have my enemies lying down beneath my heel. Anything, to me, was better than loneliness and apathy – that silent rejection, those eyes that see past you like you’re nothing but a mirage. Even when someone hates you, it shows that you’re recognized and have worth, like when the devil tears down your life when you are closest to God. You have to be someone to be worthy of hatred. But if you’re not loved, and you’re not hated, it’s very easy to slip into the thinking that you are meaningless.
You can see it in teenagers who rarely get to spend time with their parents. They go out and rebel and do crazy things for the sheer attention it brings. It’s a desperate cry – to be known, to be wanted. And a woman is much more likely to remain in an abusive relationship than one that is void of emotion.
I know what it feels like to be ignored. It’s incredibly painful. You’re there, among so many people, smiling at the jokes they tell each other, at their friendliness, their laughter. But you don’t really feel like you’re on the same plane of reality as them. You’re on the outside looking in; a reader of a book; a child peering into a snow globe. You may catch their gaze, but often times it feels more like it’s not you they’re looking at – it’s just a portrait.
The Apostle Paul remarked in his writings that good works – like charity and generosity – are nothing without love. Faith is nothing without love. See, people don’t really feel affected by your actions in a positive sense unless they understand – rightfully – that they are coming from a place of love.
Our culture of indifference could be solved easily if people started caring more. It doesn’t have to take much – if you know someone who’s lonely and reserved, a smile and some pleasant small talk can be a great way to keep their spirits up. Ask them how they’re doing, what things they like. A little interest can go a long way – you may even make a friend out of it.
And to all those isolated, all those rejected, and all those seemingly forgotten – you matter.