35. Back Then, They Knew
Since King Solomon writes, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9), the previously-described, general lack of recognition is not to say that this correlation between egotism and love’s absence was not understood once upon a time. In fact, it was: I found, in a journal published over 100 years ago (Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol. 63-64; pg. 200-201; 1914), an article titled, “Love’s Chief Opposite.” This piece was originally published in Philadelphia’s Sunday School Times:
The issue [about love’s opposite] cannot be better stated than is done in the novel . . . “Prisoners,” by Mary Cholmondeley, where the author says, “Only while we are young do we believe that the reverse of love is hate. We learn later, and that lesson we never forget, for love alone can teach it, that the reverse of love is egotism. The egotist cannot love.” . . .
It is egotism which is love’s chief opposite, and this may rule a life and spoil all relationships and banish love . . . The poverty of social life is due, not so much to the flaming tempers and the burning jealousies, not to the brutalities and the oppressions, as to the calm and steady and unnoticed self-absorption which renders one just simply indifferent toward all but his own interests and his own affairs. . . .
One has only to read over again [St.] Paul’s outburst about love [“Love . . . does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. . .,” 1 Cor. 13:4-7] to realize how little it deals with hatred as love’s chief opposite. . . . But it is the egotism which is prisoned in its own mind, it is the lack of interest in others, it is the narrow groove, it is the finding our fellow-men a tax and bother and hindrance, instead of an inspiration, which the apostle has in mind.”
The author of the above, 100-year-old piece elsewhere stated (emphasis added), “Yet no one perhaps has any consciousness that the trouble is all due to [egotism, which is] the absence and the opposite of love.” Meaning, this century-old concern about a lack of “any consciousness” is still present considering that the correlation between ego and a lack of love came as news to myself, Patricia, the Chief, and George—as it would to countless others on our planet today.