The Worst Sin Towards Our Fellow Creatures Is Not To Hate Them, But To Be Indifferent To Them

George Bernard Shaw? Anthony Anderson? Wilhelm Stekel? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The playwright George Bernard Shaw apparently contended that indifference to another person was a greater transgression than hatred. He called this indifference a sin. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: George Bernard Shaw’s play “The Devil’s Disciple” was first performed in London in 1897. During the second act the character Anthony Anderson who is a minister hears his wife expressing hatred toward another character. He responds to her as follows. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Come, dear, you’re not so wicked as you think. The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity. After all, my dear, if you watch people carefully, you’ll be surprised to find how like hate is to love.

The condemnation of indifference is expressed by one of Shaw’s characters and not directly by Shaw himself.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Worst Sin Towards Our Fellow Creatures Is Not To Hate Them, But To Be Indifferent To Them

Notes:

  1. 1906 (1900 Copyright), The Devil’s Disciple: A Melodrama by Bernard Shaw (George Bernard Shaw), (Play produced in London in 1897), Act II, (Line spoken by Anthony Anderson), Quote Page 82, Brentano’s, New York. (HathiTrust Full View) link