“Loneliness is tearing America apart” yet another article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday, December 9, 2018. A news article by Arthur C. Brooks that should open the minds of readers to a bewildering and in the eyes of many unimportant fact that too many seem to overlook this insidious symptom of “others with problems” doesn’t affect me. He goes on to quote and mention Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska who wrote a book titled, “Them: Why we hate Each Other-and How to Heal”. Both writers tackle a phenomenon that is neither pretty nor healthy in today’s fast moving society where the absence of verbal communications is no longer a part of our daily inner-action among people. One astounding item from these two brings out the sad statistics of suicide and overdose deaths that seem to emanate from one major factor; “Loneliness:’
My concern is the lack of communications among literate and non-literate persons is the same. Have we forgotten how to speak our needs and wants to each other by looking into the eyes of those with whom we want to communicate our feelings? Has the media become a replacement for the ability to say Hi, how are you doing today? Before leaving the house for school or work, while a parent or spouse is still asleep, do we then text the words “I love you” suffice for a hug, kiss, or the smile of a loved one even with sleepy eyes become passe’?
In the first paragraph I stressed the term people since the effects of our noses in the cell-phone has affected families; children to parents, spouses, co-workers, and every profession on the planet. Am I being hard in my criticism towards the most accepted form of media used by almost everyone? This includes pre-teens to the very elderly who struggle at times to learn the skills of technology that almost change daily. Perhaps the answer might be yes, but in a positive way. When the automobile began to replace the horse and buggy era many people were skeptical of this new fad, making us grow up to modernism. However, most people can not get from one place to another without a motorized vehicle. So it will be, if not already here, with smaller and smaller instruments that grew from room sized computers to wrist worn instruments that even talk back to us.
Could you recognize a lonely person on the street as you pass them by? Probably not. But then, could you detect a lonely spouse leaving their house in the morning as they reach for the door of their car, perhaps after an argument, of even worse no words spoken between husband and wife? At times the most lonely persons are not strangers in the workplace, but maybe in the very residences of smiling family members who on the inside live a traumatic existence.
A story was told to me about a person who lives an extremely lonely lifestyle. The age or relationship to others is not important. It was revealed to me that while in the womb this child’s parents had bitter arguments and when this child was born and still in the hospital nursery before discharge the nurses were glad they were going home. From infancy to middle-age this unfortunate child, still lives with the effects of pre-birth trauma; extreme loneliness. Even in the womb the unborn are able to hear and feel the onslaught of anger, being born with fear and trepidation.
During a time when I was using public transportation my surprise was almost everyone on the T (railway system in Pittsburgh) was on a cell-phone. As my eyes looked around I believe I was the only one out of place since mine was still in my pocket. Is this the usual manner of speech by people daily? My education on this matter became apparent.
Of course the communications phenomenon doesn’t cause suicides or overdoses. But it shows that part of the scenario of loneliness does begin when we quit using our mouths (I think we still have that body part) or eyes to reach the emotions of another person close up, and finger typing becomes the rule of the day.
The loneliness debacle is very much alive in all societies, among all classes, races, and nationalities. It isn’t going away. We also find it in our schools, churches, and workplaces. It isn’t a, “shh”, don’t tell anyone about this scourge in our family. We can no longer hush away the problem of loneliness that may be the very root of suicides and overdoses. Find them, love them, and for the sake of God’s Kingdom do not reject them.
Ralph B. Hathaway December 2018