“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us a garden.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Kurt Vonnegut, in Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage, suggested that what young people must do with their lives is to create stable communities “in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” Many research reports and books have been written in the last couple of years about how our reliance on technology has moved us away from each other. This is especially true for young people, many of whom spend up to six hours a day on their mobile phones. According to the Pew Research Center, teens report being on social media sites “almost constantly.” This suggests a deep longing for connection; in other words, loneliness.
I don't think teens are the only ones longing for connection and community. Many of us, who now live far from our families of origin and our homeland, are also in need of a bond of safety and like-minded fellowship. We seek it in technology, but what we truly need is other human beings who think and feel with us, who listen and suggest, who extend a hand, and maybe a bowl of soup, and some buttered bread when we need it. We, ourselves, need to reach out and help untie the knots in other peoples lives, even when our own life is far from perfect. In doing that, we may find that when we have needs others will be there to help us, too.
Community is intentional human-to-human connection. And, even with seven and a half billion people on this planet, we still need it with at least a few.
In the Spirit,