One is the Loneliest Number

Sometimes societal conditions are so omnipresent that we hardly even notice.

George Monbiot, in The Guardian, says that “severe loneliness in England blights the lives of 700,000 men and 1.1m women over 50, and is rising with astonishing speed.”

“Ebola is unlikely ever to kill as many people as this disease strikes down. Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; loneliness, research suggests, is twice as deadly as obesity. Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents – all these, like depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide, become more prevalent when connections are cut.”

Wealth provides no guarantee. “The top 1% own 48% of global wealth, but even they aren’t happy. A survey by Boston College of people with an average net worth of $78m found that they too were assailed by anxiety, dissatisfaction and loneliness.”

The mythology of lone rangers and self-made men and women has not done us any favours, both personally or as a society.

The response to the epidemic has been both personal and social. Campaigns like Oprah and Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “Just Say Hello” campaign encourages people to find more connections in their daily interactions. Personal therapy often addresses issues like shame, self-worth and the lack of social skills.

All are important yet nothing exceeds eyes that dance with joy at the present of our presence and outstretched arms that wrap around and say “beloved.”

Is loneliness a time issue - we are just all so busy and hence too tired - to connect? Is it the result of a values shift - the triumph of independence, personal comfort and security  over connection?  Or ...

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