We are a grand total of seven days into the new school year, and my lovely wife has already managed to contract the plague from the precious cherubs with whom she works. We are still experiencing temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s, yet somehow the common cold has already begun making the rounds in our area schools. It often seems to me that schools serve to pass germs along with knowledge. It really makes sense if you think about it. The sheer number of people contained in those buildings makes them perfect incubators for all sorts of creepy crawlies. During the winter months, colds are exchanged like old school trading cards. The first week and a half of school, however, is bordering on the ridiculous.
Nobody likes to be sick. Personally, I will try just about anything to keep from catching what everyone else is spreading, even if it’s “just a cold.” As soon as I feel even the slightest inkling of sickness, I start going through the products. In the end, nothing works, though. It makes me wonder, with all of the advances in modern medicine, HOW HAVE WE NOT FOUND A CURE FOR THE COMMON COLD?!?! I would think by this point in human development we would have discovered a solution to this particular problem. Of all the sicknesses that get passed around, the common cold should no longer be one of them.
Loneliness is the sickness for which we really need a solution.
I decided that I needed to do a little research and see if there were any recent breakthrough developments in finding a cure. As I was reading an article on the common cold, the headline of another article caught my eye. It read, “New Cigna Study Reveals Loneliness at Epidemic Levels in America.” I read the entirety of the article, along with several others. They all pointed to the same truth; loneliness is every bit as common as the cold, but much more dangerous. The article stated that nearly half of those surveyed reported feeling alone or left out. Two out of five surveyed stated that they lacked meaningful relationships and that they felt isolated from others. Loneliness is the sickness for which we really need a solution.
One might be tempted to find this article a bit extreme. Everyone feels lonely and disconnected from time to time. We’ve all faced times when we feel isolated and left out. It only makes sense that if we are feeling this way, we are probably lacking in meaningful connections at that time. But an epidemic? The word epidemic is defined as “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.” Is loneliness truly an epidemic? As I consider the research of the article mentioned above in partnership with a host of other articles and my own experience, I would have to say yes.
Loneliness is widespread. It is more than a little troubling that approximately 50% of the population feels alone and excluded. And, I have to wonder, how many people painted a somewhat rosier picture because they just happened to be having a good day? I understand that particular argument can go both ways, but that’s the point. We all struggle with feelings of loneliness and inadequacy from time to time, ALL OF US.
We live in a time with more means of connection and communication than ever before, and at the same time, we feel more alone and isolated than ever before.
Loneliness is spreading. From what I can tell, the problem is getting worse, not better. This is particularly true in younger generations, but it can be seen throughout the generations. It is actually painfully ironic. We live in a time with more means of connection and communication than ever before, and at the same time, we feel more alone and isolated than ever before. It appears that the more ways we create to connect with one another, the less real connections we actually make.
The solution is present within the problem. The definition of an epidemic places the problem within the context of a “community.” What makes this epidemic so different than many others is that what is often the source of the spread is the source of the cure. The cure for loneliness is community. What people of all ages need more than anything today is meaningful interactions in the context of meaningful relationships. The very article mentioned above noted, “Only half indicated having meaningful in-person social interactions with friends or family on a daily basis.” I don’t think it a coincidence that the same percentage that indicated they felt lonely also indicated that they lacked meaningful interactions with those who are supposed to be closest to them.
We are made to be in relationship with one another. I have always found it interesting that in the narrative of creation found in Genesis that only once does God look at creation and say, “That’s not good…” It isn’t that Adam wasn’t a good creation, it’s that the creation was incomplete. It was the fact that Adam was alone that was not good. The same is true for us today. IT IS NOT GOOD FOR US TO BE ALONE. This is not to say that we shouldn’t find moments alone. It is simply an acknowledgement that we were designed to live in partnership and relationship with one another. We need one another.
We hold the cure for the greatest epidemic of our time. Love is the answer. WE ARE THE CURE…
There is an epidemic in our world today, an epidemic of loneliness. It is every bit as common as the cold, but much more dangerous and deadly. Mother Teresa said it best; “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.” We hold the cure for the greatest epidemic of our time. Love is the answer. WE ARE THE CURE…