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Blog Article - 24 August 2018

THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE. Contribution to Symposium organised by PThU, to celebrate 70 years World Council of Churches.

Do you know what the opposite is of love?


It is not hate, it is indifference.


Hate, at least is an emotion, indifference is not.

Indifference is the lack of emotions and the absense of interest.


In my life I have lived for long periods in different places, different cultures with different languages and I have worked in many different contexts.


In all these situations, in South- and Latin America, in Europe and in Asia,  I have felt welcome, and I have experienced hospitality in different ways.


What I have learned in all these very different circumstances, is that hospitality starts with curiosity.  Curiosity from those who were hospitable for me, but also my own curiosity to get a grip of these new places, trying to learn the languge,  to undertand the culture, the do's and do not's every country has.


So, for me, hospitality starts with curiosity.

Curiosity, you will agree with me, is the opposite of indiffernce.


Curiosity means interest, means the desire to know, to understand, to understand people, to understand differences.


Curiosity means opening your mind ánd your heart to new situations, unknown worlds, to stangers. 


Curiosity is  a strong driving power, - and we are losing it.


As a world community we are losing our curiosity, because we think we already know.


Thanks to the fact that our world has become a global village, thanks to the traditional media and certainly thanks to social media, we are losing curiosity because twitter, facebook, instagram etc. tell us what far away places look like and what to think about other people. About Russians and Americans, Chinese people and African people, whites and blacks,  hindu's, christians and muslims. Without having heardly met them ourselves, or even without ever having met them, we build an image of others, based on the frames that the media offer us, based on generalities.


We lose our curiosity and become indifferent people. Because we think we already know, who the other is, and what to expact from her or him.


The past five years I have lived in Hong Kong.


I can not expres show grateful I am for these years. Not only to learn a completely different language (at least I tried to learn it) and culture, but to experience an entirely new way of seeing the world.


In China I learned about Feng Shui, an old Chinese philosophy about balance and harmony between human beings and their environment.

According to Feng Shui the best place at the table is facing the door. Never sit with your back towards the door, because through the door, all are welcome.

However, one has to see who comes in, who is the person that is let into the house. One has to be curious, one has to be cautious, but one should not be prejudiced. See the person, who comes into your house.


The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.

As we celebrate 70 years of the World Council of Churches and as we talk about hospitality as vital for our moving, our pelgrimage through life and our pelgrimage of justice and peace, let us not forget that hospitality starts with curiosity, with interest, with an unjudgmental open mind and an open heart and that curiosity -for being the opposite of indiffernce- is the beginning of love.


Kathleen Ferrier

PThU Symposium,

August 23th, 2018

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