America is facing a silent epidemic. Loneliness permeates our society. As technology advances and our life styles become busier, the most basic of needs are going unmet. We have become accustomed to a lesser appetite when it comes to connectedness and it is creating a deficit of the soul. The following are 10 thoughts on loneliness:
- 70% of Americans describe their lives as having many acquaintances but few close friends.
- Mother Teresa: "The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved and uncared for..."
- E-mail is substituting the sound of the human voice and face to face contact.
- Life is like an elevator: we're surrounded by people but no connection.
- According to one survey, 90% of the male population lacks a true friend.
- The benefit of touch can be the difference between sickness and health; life and death.
- Basic felt needs include: love, shared experience, trust and disclosure.
- The average American watches 4 hours of TV a day, far beyond the time invested in family communication or outside community activity.
- Prioritizing career advancement, we have opted to be mobile -- leaving behind the family and friends who nurtured us.
- Researchers found that from 1985-2004 the number of people with whom Americans feel they can discuss important matters dropped by nearly a third.
The concept of man needing meaningful relationship is as old as the scriptures. The book of Ecclesiastes is relevant in our modern society, marked by isolated ladder climbers, as it declares that we are strengthened and accomplish more when connected to others. We must reject shallow roots which produce surface commitments and invest in meaningful relationships lest true community becomes extinct in America.
Bill Shuler is pastor at Capital Life Church, Arlington, Virginia. Capitallife.org.