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Is it “Love vs Hate” or “Love vs Fear”?

Posted Dec 17 2009 12:00am

In this short blog I examine the question which is a more fundamental antagonist of love: fear or hate.

Hate is a strong aversive emotion connected to the subject or object of hate. The strength of hate derives from a former affection or love for that subject or object. In other words, what is hated now was once loved. Hate is a love gone sour.

Without further specification, let’s say some person, A, loves some person or object, B. Now B either directly damages, or is held responsible for damaging, this love relationship with A. Consequently, A is left feeling hurt and because A wants to avoid a recurrence of that pain, A generates emotions of aversion towards B. The most general and basal aversive emotion is fear and it is out of fear that hate is born; a more active and aggressive aversive emotion. Where the purpose of fear is to avoid, the purpose of hate is to actively undermine or thwart conditions or situations that lead to a repeat of the pain experienced that is associated with the demise of the love relationship between A and B. Whereas fear tends its host to recede and retract, hate tends to confront and attack the perceived (potential) source of pain. Hatred permits its host to operate on the grounds that the best defense is an offense.

Therefore, fear is the the passive response to a shattered love relationship whereas hate is its active response.

Hatred can also be generated as a reaction to A becoming aware that he or she has developed fear for B, if fear itself is hated by A. In other words, fear feeds hate. It may even be that fear is exclusively causative to hate and that without fear there would be no (reason to) hate. If true, then this would mean that indeed fear is a more fundamental antagonist to love and is to be viewed as the motivational breeding ground for hatred.

This assertion is also confirmed by scripture:

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

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