April 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 9

Editorial – Loneliness

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of a neighborhoodAll of us have benefited by the tremendous strides made in technology and scientific research. Everyone today knows the value of the computer and the laptop. What we are now discovering is that all of these advances have made us quite impersonal. When you figure for example that the average mother and father spend about seven minutes in actual substantial dialogue with their children on a daily basis and then compare that with the amount of time a mother and father at their work spend in front of a computer. Years ago it seemed we always had time for our neighbors. It was nothing in my own family to see my mother have guests virtually unannounced come in and over a cup of tea and a small piece of pastry they would talk, converse and socialize for hours. Each one knew they could rely on the other.

That was one of the wonderful effects of living in a good middle class neighborhood. Now when both mother and father are working two jobs, and even in certain States of this country parents are working two and a half jobs, to develop that closeness with a neighbor is becoming almost impossible. It is such a great loss because this just fosters the culture that is bringing loneliness into every aspect of our lives.

Loneliness is the disease of normal people. Yes, we have medication that can take care of someone in the state of anxiety or someone in the state of depression, but we have no such kind of medication when it comes to loneliness. Loneliness is not always a major negative. If you study the lives of the great people of the past, people like Plato, Aristotle and Christ, they connected their loneliness with solitude and from that connection came some of the greatest discoveries of the world.

What is loneliness? For a general definition you can say loneliness is a feeling of being unwanted, unneeded and unloved. How do you approach controlling loneliness before it controls you? There are two ways.

First, you must reach out. Albert Camus once said, "there is no life worthwhile unless it is lived in relationship with another". That is a reminder that each one of us during the course of our lives has to reach out and offer our talents and our abilities to another. We hope that person will offer his talents and abilities to us. And when that is done, a relationship is forged that enables ordinary people to keep loneliness down to a minimum.

The second technique that all of us must implement, in addition to reaching out, is to reach back and study how Christ handled loneliness. If you recall the time when He was going through His agony, He cried out, "my soul is sorrowful even unto death". Until the moment when He was on the Cross when He said, "my God, my God, why have You forsaken me", He reminded us, He, too, was experiencing loneliness and since loneliness did not pass by Christ it is not going to pass by us. If we reach back and ask Christ to sustain us, to help us, in our moments of loneliness, we will control loneliness the way Christ controlled loneliness in His life.

St. Augustine once reminded us about loneliness when he said, "you have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts will not rest until they rest in You". There is no total answer to loneliness, but by reaching out to others and reaching back to Christ, we do have the instruments that bring us peace of mind in a very lonely world.