The opposite of love, it’s often said, isn't hate. It’s indifference. The older I get, the more I appreciate the meaning of this adage and its relationship to time.
Time is a diminishing resource. When you’re young, though, time feels infinite. For example, I think about the twelve years between first and twelfth grades. How long they seemed. How much I changed. How much happened. Then I think about the last twelve years, and they just feel like a blur of work and parenting with fewer immediately noticeable changes.
One change, however, feels very noticeable to me, and that’s the confidence with which I use my time and my voice.
How I use my time and how I use my voice feels like an increasingly critical decision with every passing day, especially now. I’m careful and thoughtful (or I try to be) with my time and my voice, in order to maximize the likelihood that the uses to which I put them will ultimately feel good and right to me.
To that end, I’ve cultivated a sort of numb indifference to bigots and propaganda-peddlers who are wholly immune to facts, data, science, or reason. I don’t “hate” these people. I feel sad that they themselves are consumed with hate, motivated by anger, and living in ignorance and fear. I’m horrified that their ideas are apparently shared by so many of my fellow citizens. I try not to let my social media accounts serve as a platform for their vitriol.
But I’m ultimately indifferent to them, because anything short of indifference is a waste of my time and my voice.
Every minute I spend reading or responding to an insane comment or trying to change a bigot’s mind, or defending myself and my ideas and actions through direct engagement with a bigot, is one less minute I have with my family. It’s one less minute I have with my friends. It’s one less minute I have for my own writing and activism. It’s one more impediment to the tiny little dent I try to make in issues of social justice. It’s one more distraction from everything that matters.
To invite these futile interactions into my life is to allow bigots to rob me of my most valuable resource: my time. And time, more than ever, is of the essence.
Like the song goes: Ain’t no time to hate. Barely time to wait.