Fear or Love? Your take needed.

“It is better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.”
– Niccolo Machiavelli

This morning I asked my friends what Niccolo might have meant. They’ve come up with interesting answers.


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In this post, I publish 10 of the responses unedited.
“With fear and love comes respect. I feel Niccolo meant that one should be respected. If love and fear both are possible together then it is well and fine. But it isn’t, majorly. So, one should either do deeds in life where people love them or fear them. Because respect is a very Important part of human life”
– Sharanya Bhattacharya.

“That I won’t EVER get hurt or being let down.”
– Reema Ghosh Ray.

“Because loved ones are taken for granted, whereas it’s not the same with people we fear.”
– Neha Srivatsava.

“He says love is internally based. It’s a feeling you largely choose to feel, that you can large turn on and off easily. Love is fickle. It comes, it goes. Fear is much more predictable and largely externally based. Lovers can fall out easily on a fast downward spiral whim; fear does not wear off if your base. And that’s the truth. Even the “unconditional love” that’s even not a permanent thing. But, fear is different. Even in human psychology, the feeling of love is a mixed one. But the fear is completely an independent feeling of a man. ‘If you can’t be both’…. the mixture of love and fear keeps a man away from the evil thoughts. And if one can’t be so, he/she trust on fear than love.”
– Shreyoshee Chatterjee.

“I think Nicolo meant that people respect you more as they find you intimidating, don’t mess with you, don’t hurt you when they fear you but not the same when they love you.”
– Sreeparna Maiti.

“As a leader, if people do not respect your love towards them, then they should fear you, and obey you. For example, some people are God-loving and God-fearing, while some are just God-fearing.”
– Siddhartha Das.

“Fear is external to a person, while Love is highly internal. Fear is stimulated by external circumstances, whereas, Machiavelli’s book was largely based on politics and administration. Keeping that background in mind, a person having followers out of love, will have support as long as he is in power, as long as his ideals continue to influence people. As soon as he loses his influence, his power, his followers would begin flocking away. History has been proof of this- Moses had followers only when he had convinced people of the presence of God and the prophecy. On the other hand, a person who is feared will be ensured of support because his followers/subjects (in this case) will support him in fear of the consequence of the lack of support.
Fear is stimulated by external circumstances, whereas love is internally stimulated, i.e, one can provoke fear in another, but one can choose to love or not to love. In other words, love is a personal choice and is optional, whereas, fear isn’t.”
– Soham Basu

“Love gives us a sense of comfort whereas fear, on the other hand, gives a chance to conquer it and discover our true selves and take us out of our so-called comfort zones.”
– Yogesh Bhatt.

“Chanakya said that the straight trees are axed first and that men should be like snakes which hiss as if they can kill irrespective of whether they are venomous or not however Machiavelli says it is best if a man can evoke both feelings of fear and love in others….fear for betrayal and harm and love for all the good things they don’t just do to us but also for spreading the warmth around them and reposing our faith in humanity.”
– Manas Sarkar

“Fear makes you do things which love can’t. Helps you push yourself, when in fear you do things for yourself, in love you do things for another half. As, I put it, ‘live to fight another day’.”
– Sumantro Mukherjee.

“Niccolo Machiavelli meant that it is better to be like Hitler if you cannot be Hercules.
He tries to explain that extreme hard emotions are better to be kept because after all, this will make you strong enough to lead you through your life full of obstacles. Clearly, it is meant that to be feared means to be feared of the great qualities that make up your personality. So stay strong…never break down ….even if you fall then get the power to stand up again ….and this is how you will be feared coz you are the Strongest ”
– Mallika Sasmal.

What do you think the quote meant? Share your thoughts in the comment section. Ask your friends if you feel like, do share this post!

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