The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate, But Indifference

Elie Wiesel? Wilhelm Stekel? Rosalie Gabler? John Le Carré? Rollo May? August Strindberg? William Hale White? Otto M. Spangler? David Cornwell?

Dear Quote Investigator: Love and hate are intense emotions that are sometimes mingled together. The following statement makes a fascinating point:

The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.

This adage has often been attributed to activist and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, but I think it might have a longer history. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Elie Wiesel did employ this expression in 1986, but it was already in circulation before he was born.

The earliest close match in English located by QI appeared in “The Beloved Ego: Foundations of the New Study of the Psyche” by prominent Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Stekel. The text was translated from German into English by Rosalie Gabler and published in 1921. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

There is no love without hate; and there is no hate without love. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference; the opposite of feeling can only be the absence of feeling. Disinclination, which is coloured by feeling, often only serves the purpose of concealing and protecting oneself against an inclination. Love and hate must go hand in hand; and the people we love most we hate also, because hate is grounded in the nature of love.

The German title of the work above was “Das Liebe Ich: Grundzüge Einer Neuen Dietätik der Seele”, but QI has not yet examined that book.

The quotation in German was present in the 1921 edition of Stekel’s work “Die Geschlechtskälte der Frau: Eine Psychopathologie des Weiblichen Liebeslebens” (“Frigidity in Woman: A Psychopathology of Women’s Love Life”): 2

Der Gegensatz von Liebe ist nicht Haß, sondern Gleichgültigkeit; der Gegensatz eines Gefühls kann nur die Gefühllosigkeit sein.

The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference; the opposite of feeling can only be the absence of feeling

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate, But Indifference

Notes:

  1. 1921, The Beloved Ego: Foundations of the New Study of the Psyche by Wilhelm Stekel M.D., Translation by Rosalie Gabler (Member of the British Psychological Society and of the Society for the Study of Orthopsychics), Chapter 2: The Fight of the Sexes, Quote Page 16, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Company, London. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1921, Title: Die Geschlechtskälte der Frau: Eine Psychopathologie des Weiblichen Liebeslebens (English: Frigidity in Woman: A Psychopathology of Women’s Love Life), Author Wilhelm Stekel, Volume 3: Störungen des Trieb-und Affektlebens, Chapter 10: Der Kampf der Geschlechter, Quote Page 229, Urban & Schwarzenberg, Berlin and Wien. (Internet archive archive.org) link

What Is Important Is Seldom Urgent and What Is Urgent Is Seldom Important

Dwight D. Eisenhower? John Le Carré? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: There is a popular time management scheme called the Eisenhower Decision Principle or the Eisenhower Matrix which is named after U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Every task is evaluated based on two axes: important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent. There are different rules for each type of task. For example, if a task is urgent but unimportant then it should be delegated to someone else.

The inspiration for the method comes from a saying attributed to the famous military and civilian leader. Here are two versions:

(1) What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

(2) Most things which are urgent are not important, and most things which are important are not urgent.

I haven’t been able to determine when this was said by Eisenhower. Would you please examine this adage?

Quote Investigator: In 1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower visited the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and delivered an address to the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches. He spoke a version of the adage, but he did not claim credit for it. Instead, he attributed the words to an unnamed “former college president”. In the following excerpt Eisenhower used the phrase “President Miller” while referring to Dr. J. Roscoe Miller who was the President of Northwestern University. Note that Eisenhower was not ascribing the saying to Miller who was a current president and not a former president. Boldface has been added: 1

Now, my friends of this convocation, there is another thing we can hope to learn from your being with us. I illustrate it by quoting the statement of a former college president, and I can understand the reason for his speaking as he did. I am sure President Miller can.

This President said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

Now this, I think, represents a dilemma of modern man. Your being here can help place the important before us, and perhaps even give the important the touch of urgency. And you can strengthen our faith that men of goodwill, working together, can solve the problems confronting them.

The above citation is the earliest relevant evidence known to QI. This instance of the expression did not use a qualifier such as “seldom” or “most”. But the next citation suggests that at least one listener added the word “seldom” to his memory of the remark.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading What Is Important Is Seldom Urgent and What Is Urgent Is Seldom Important

Notes:

  1. Website: The American Presidency Project, Speech delivered by: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Speech number: 204, Title: Address at the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches, Location: Evanston, Illinois, Date: August 19, 1954, Website description: The American Presidency Project was established in 1999 as a collaboration between John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Archives contain 104,855 documents related to the study of the Presidency. (Accessed presidency.ucsb.edu on May 8, 2014) link

People Sleep Peacefully in Their Beds at Night Only Because Rough Men Stand Ready to Do Violence on Their Behalf

George Orwell? Richard Grenier? Rudyard Kipling? Winston Churchill? John Le Carré? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The brilliant writer George Orwell authored two of the most powerful and acclaimed political books of the last century: 1984 and Animal Farm. The saying that interests me is usually attributed to him, and there are two popular versions:

We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf

I think these words are consistent with the sentiments Orwell expressed in essays, but I have read conflicting comments about whether these words are correctly ascribed to him. Would you trace the source of these statements?

Quote Investigator:There is no substantive evidence that George Orwell who died in 1950 made this remark. The earliest known matching statement appeared in a column in the Washington Times newspaper written by the film critic and essayist Richard Grenier in 1993: 1 2

As George Orwell pointed out, people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

It is important to note that Grenier did not use quotation marks around the statement of the view that he ascribed to Orwell. QI believes that Grenier was using his own words to present a summary of Orwell’s viewpoint. Later commentators placed the statement between quotation marks and introduced various modifications to the passage.

This is a known mechanism for the generation of misattributions. Person A summarizes, condenses, or restates the opinion of person B. At a later time the restatement is directly ascribed to person B.

Previous researchers located the key 1993 citation and found phrases in the works of Orwell and Kipling that contain parts of the idea expressed in the aphorism under investigation. Here are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading People Sleep Peacefully in Their Beds at Night Only Because Rough Men Stand Ready to Do Violence on Their Behalf

Notes:

  1. 1993 April 6, The Washington Times, Perils of Passive Sex by Richard Grenier, Page F3, Washington, D.C. (NewsBank)
  2. In 2009 the noted science fiction author William Gibson expressed an interest in identifying the origin of this saying. The important 1993 citation was mentioned in a forum post at the website of Gibson by an individual using the handle Caplewood who suggested that “Grenier made it up”; William Gibson Message Board, Message from Caplewood with timestamp: July 17, 2009 10:47 AM. (Accessed williamgibsonboard.com on November 5, 2011) link