Friday, March 07, 2008

The Scandal of Loneliness

I had an eye-opening conversation recently, with a fellow Christian from a different social background. He spoke of his extreme loneliness living on his own in a council flat. I can identify with that - when I lived on my own, I'd have gone mad without an intensely social job, a church with a strong social life and friends I could chat to online. And of those three, only one was open to this man.

He spoke of his time trying to persuade people to let him stay in sheltered housing for the mentally disabled, because he wanted the company. But they wouldn't let him, because he was too clever. The government's assumption is that people are best off living on their own if they can, because that's society's assumption. But it's wrong.

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
Genesis 2:18, NIV

We have such a fractured individualised society. And yet so many people, on leaving university, find that the best way to live is with housemates, in order to stay sane as well as in order to be able to afford to live.

We are not meant to be alone. Why is it that in contemporary TV, there are so few stable characters who live on their own? And yet why is it that in reality, so many people do? Why is it that the biggest internet industries - pornography and gambling - are essentially solitary pursuits? When are alcoholics most likely to relapse? When are people most likely to get depressed?

We are in a society which is gradually ripping itself apart, and one of the key factors in its self-destruction is loneliness.

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