Loneliness And The Feeling Of Being Unwanted Is The Most Terrible Poverty.
– Mother Teresa
There is this saying that social media is doing more to isolate rather than connect people. So, you have thousands of Twitter followers, or grosses of friends’ on Facebook? Good.
But, how many are real friends?
So, Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State appoints a Commissioner of Happiness & Couples Fulfillment, and the guffaws, titters and chuckles would not end.
But how about the Minister of Sex in Spain (whose job will be to get people busy between the sheets. I would have thought Japan needs this more than any other country, by the way!)
And more recently, and relevant to this article, the appointment of the Minister of Loneliness in the UK.
Minister of Loneliness?
Y’all should apologize to Gov. Okorocha, he is a visionary leader. Can you see there is nothing wrong with the new post he just created?
In all civilizations, if men have built cities, it is precisely to escape isolation, to open their minds and hearts to horizons other than the immediate confines of their house or tiny hamlets / villages.
Paradoxically, one of the major problems of our modern cities (after discounting mindless violence) is the loneliness they engender. The more modern (cosmopolitan) cities are, the more loneliness wreaks havoc. It is like being hungry at a buffet. People being lonely to the point of being depressed and even committing suicide is unimaginable in a world made up of billions of people!
It is even shocking that, in an African society (say Lagos) where we tend to be somewhat more communal than some other parts of the world, we are having cases of people Taking Their Own Lives!. Cases of suicide are so rare as to make serious headlines, unlike a place like Japan where these things are more common (Seppuku /
Let us have a look at possible causes of this crippling loneliness the modern man in modern cities tends to be afflicted with! This disconnectedness!
Our common destiny is “social friendship,” as Aristotle said many centuries ago.
In a book The Lonely Crowd, the American sociologist David Riesman highlighted the revolution engendered by the mass consumer society. Everyone searches for their relevance in the eyes of others, while the old managers of society fade away and old communal ties degrade.
The individual is at the same time freer (it is the good side of things) and delivered to himself (it is the drama of loneliness). We now find that everyone in developed countries has gained autonomy, but that life in common often does not make much sense, that people are generally unhappy and that they have very few people to love, and love them – unlike years ago.
The following, by George Carlin is worthy of being reproduced:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.
We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.
We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.
These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.
A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. An embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
The foundation for segregation starts with our style of education. In the cities, urban segregation (concentration of a population with disparate economic status) has been accompanied by educational segregation (children only meet other children whose parents generally share similar financial and social standing / status). To meet the challenge of social cohesion, it is important to allow children to grow together – across religion, class and tribe, to get to know each other rather than to be afraid of their dissimilarities. This is learned from childhood.
The one place that universally allows this learning is the family. The primary way to effectively tackle the causes of modern loneliness is first and foremost to strengthen the family unit.
Is it a coincidence that the dramas of loneliness multiply, if relations between human beings are tense, if violence transforms many neighborhoods of big cities?
But the Family is the only place where coercion naturally coexists (by the reciprocal engagement of the spouses in the long term) with love . It is thus the only true place of learning of social relations.
Do children still have Social Studies as one of their subjects?
One learns openness to others and to life, by welcoming children. One learns the free gift of one’s time, one’s talents, through the education of children. We learn the generational link between them (grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins , etc) and the awareness of what we owe to those who came before us. We learn and practice our mother tongue and tradition as a common heritage, which opens everyone to the notion of belonging.
And the family is the only social place that can follow you from birth to death, with memories, happy or painful, landmarks, roots. A strong family is one of the antidote to loneliness. But with most younger people in our cities not even being able to speak their native language properly, the seed of loneliness is already germinating from early childhood!
Also, everything must be done to encourage, value and reinforce the commitment of marriage between men and women; to help young homes to welcome life and raise their children well; to enable grandparents and great-grandparents to fulfill their role of link to the youngest (generational mix).
We need to eliminate the idea that the bigger the city, the more powerful and happy the inhabitants are. Our megacities generate sinister suburbs; the anonymity of the crowds does not help to stem the violence. Segregations of all kinds are created (political, social, economic), we lose the time to live, to stroll, to meet each other. We are all busy hustling to make ends meet.
There is the need to encourage everything to promote social mix ( the religious places of worship are serving this good purpose) and generational diversity, to the city centers, to the interior of buildings. We must continue to provide a platform for successful cohabitation between social circles and different ages.