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I Feel It Is Better To Be Loved Than Feared

September 30, 2010

Although Machiavelli claims to be feared is better than to be loved, I feel the opposite. How can we let one man in history decide on which is better. Yes, if we continually give and give, in the end we as the generous will be in poverty, but giving is not the only way of showing love. Did Martin Luther King Jr. not show love to everyone? I do not know of many who feared him.

It is important to understand that Machiavelli not only tries to push this opinion on us, but his reasons against love are not well justified. His main argument is that if we continue to be generous, those around us will want more and more. This is true, but generosity is not the only way of showing love. Kings and Princes could have easily displayed love through their actions and words. Continuous speeches of how one will protect his people or “peasants” show love. By not using brutality and sparring those in need shows love. This is what will draw the support of the citizens.

Martin Luther King Jr. was loved by all and feared by almost none. I can not think of one story showing how people “feared” that King was going to use violence against them. Yet, look at all he accomplished as a civil rights leader. King used his actions to show love. He stood up for his brothers and sisters to show them he cared. He was not “overthrown” for doing this, instead he was deeply respected.

I know that the times are very different, but Kings could have ruled in the same way. By representing the values of his citizens he could have been loved, and even more, respected. They would not have felt it easier to do wrong against him just because he had showed them respect. They would have thought him a worthy leader whom they “loved.”

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6 Comments
  1. Jake Zunamon permalink
    September 30, 2010 11:03 PM

    I like your argument here and the fact that you are using MLK to back it up. I would ultimately agree with you that people did not generally fear MLK and they did love him. Additionally he was a great leader and well respected by many. However, I think your argument breaks down in the sense that MLK was ultimately assassinated. Therefore, one could argue that it would have been better to be feared because than maybe he would not have been killed. Instead, because he was only loved, people were not afraid to attack and ultimately kill him. In Machiavelli’s reasoning, an all powerful king could not have died and still be a powerful ruler. Therefore, I think it would have been possible for them to be great rulers by being loved, but this would have ultimately led to their dismantling, possibly ending in death.

  2. adamarcher permalink
    October 1, 2010 9:02 AM

    MLK was not a ruler. It is quite a stretch to compare King with a renniscance prince . . .

  3. glterryn permalink
    October 1, 2010 4:38 PM

    I think this is an interesting article and you do a good job of providing evidence for your conclusion. however, i agree with adam that it is quite a stretch to compare Machiavelli, who is discussing how to control men, a kingdom, and its resources, and MLK, who was an influential civil rights leader.

    Also, i do believe MLK was feared by some. Not for aggressive behavior or expressions of violence, but by discussing dangerous topics in turbulent times. He was feared by many whites who worried his leadership, along with the growing force of the civil rights movement, could change the face of the US.

    MLK was assassinated in order to be silenced. Those who had him killed were clearly fearful of him. You don’t silence fools, you ignore them. You only kill those who you wish to claim power from, or prevent from gaining more power.

    Consider this situation: What if MLK was a fearsome leader? What if he became the leader of a more aggressive version of “The Black Panthers”? He would certainly lose credit with his civil disobedience argument, but his position as leader of a dangerous militia could have prevented his assassination.

    But, to support your argument, jtjrd10, if he was feared instead of passive and cautious, his message would not have held weight and would have prevented the spread of his movement.

    In MLK’s instance, you are very right, it was better to be loved than feared.

  4. euzane permalink
    October 1, 2010 5:01 PM

    If we say a leader is to be loved, it would more appropriate to say that he/she is to be respected. Love expresses the attitudes people have towards a ruler when they agree with him/her and that they benefit from his/her actions and decisions. If the ruler decides to do something that upsets the majority of people, do you think they will still love him/her? A ruler exists to make sure that a country is in order and that the people are living well. In order to achieve that, the country’s people must learn how to obey, instead of supporting what benefits them, and going against what upsets them. If a ruler has to rule based on the interests of every single individual, then there is no meaning for a ruler to exist. However, we can propose that it is important for a ruler to be respected. Respect is different from love. Respect comes from trust and obedience. One respects a ruler when one believes that the ruler is doing what’s best for the country and is willing to obey whatever decision the ruler decides to make; one respects the ruler when one understands the meaning for a ruler to exist. If a country’s people simply love their ruler, then it is possible that they betray their love when they disagree with him/her.
    However, to gain respect from the whole population is not an easy task, therefore I do, to a certain extent, agree with Machiavelli that it is important to have a country’s people fear their ruler. Fear, as in letting them know that they have the civil responsibility to obey; it is not their place to judge whether they like the rules and decisions or not. Machiavelli also says that a ruler should in times show compassion and generosity, no matter truthfully or not. Therefore, I wouldn’t agree on the existence of a cruel and unapproachable ruler; but fear from the country’s people is certainly necessary for one to rule a country.

  5. dbwein permalink
    October 3, 2010 9:58 PM

    I think that the point Machiavelli was trying to make was that with love comes expectations for future goodness, but with fear comes respect and obedience.

    In our lives, we hope to be loved by our family, friends, peers, etc. However, when it comes to a ruler I think it is of utmost importance that the ruler is seen as an authority figure (which generally are feared) and respected. Think of how you envision a principal or boss, you may really like your authority figure but in the end they have controll over your grades or job so you fear them. You fear them for the power they hold over you and your future, and thus you give them your obedience.

    And that is why I think a ruler needs to be feared. Because the subordinates in the Kingdom need to feel that they are indebted to the ruler. And that does not mean that a ruler can not both be loved and feared, but to be feared is most important.

  6. aaronyan1123 permalink
    October 3, 2010 10:24 PM

    I personally think you did a good arguement on the question whether a ruler is better to be feared or loved. Your points and evidance are straight-forward and clear. However, I think you misunderstood what Machiavelli tried to say. I believe in Machiavelli’s saying. The ruler of a nation should be feared better than be loved.
    First, Machiavelli had no idea about democracy because he was born and raised in an imperial age. In his mind, he would only knew the king or prince of a nation is the master of a nation. Kings and princes rule their nations.
    Moreover, Martin Luther King is not a ruler of a nation. He is just a politician or leader who wanted to gain civil right for American Africans. He was loved by people because there were a lot of American Africans were still under the slave system and most of his supporters are American Africans.
    Taking Mao Zedong as an example, he could not unify China’s language if he was not be feared. Therefore, I believe Machiavelli’s saying is perfect to apply on rulers.

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