Russ Young: Loneliness is a bane of modern society
I have little need for the personal ads in the newspapers. But while doing a little investigative reading I recently found myself looking at some of them. In doing so, I was struck by how lonely people can be. I do not begrudge anyone for wanting...
I have little need for the personal ads in the newspapers. But while doing a little investigative reading I recently found myself looking at some of them. In doing so, I was struck by how lonely people can be. I do not begrudge anyone for wanting to meet others; right from the beginning we know that it was not good for man to be alone.
Loneliness is a bane of our modern society. Trying to remedy its effects consumes much of people's time and drives us to do things we would never think of otherwise, including placing a personal ad. Loneliness has been the subject of much music including the simple but haunting Beatles' tune "Eleanor Rigby," which asked, "All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?"
Loneliness has many adverse hidden effects on the soul, but one of the most pernicious is the heart gripping panic we can experience when we realize we are alone.
A course offered through Lake Superior College's Emergency Response Training Center well illustrates this. It is a true story about a highly successful executive manager who decided he needed a "get away from it all" vacation. The executive arrived at a remote wilderness site with only a guide and one or two other adventurers. The next day when they set out hiking, he somehow managed to quickly get separated from the group. After an all day search, he was finally found sitting in a state of shock and in need of immediate first aid as his body was sinking into hypothermia.
The startling fact is that he had only wandered a mere 15 minutes away from the base camp before he realized he was already lost. In the meantime, the rest of his group were calling for him, but he never heard them. Once found and out of danger, he was questioned as to what had happened.
His answer: Upon seeing that he had dropped behind the othres he began calling out, but they did not answer. Panic gripped his heart when he realized that for the first time in his life he was truly alone. He was so scared by the idea of not being able to speak with another person, he dropped into a state of shock, and that is how they found him sitting hours later. Although this is an extreme case, the story illustrates the profound effect which loneliness can have on otherwise able-bodied people.
It has been said that humans are the only species which cannot survive alone. The need to be with others is deeply ingrained on our souls.
One of the oft cited ironies of modern living is how people are becoming more separated from one another despite living in the close proximity of cities and despite modern communication technologies. The problem is not that there are no means of communicating, but there are no longer any normative means to develop significant relationships.
In the past, there were rules for dating and courtship, along with other cultural norms that helped to facilitate the growth of healthy relationships. Within this context, sex was recognized as a good and proper consummation of relationships joined together by marriage. Today, sex is used to assuage loneliness irrespective of marriage.
Personal ads reflect this by their blatant pandering for sexual favors. It is bad enough that people feel comfortable placing such ads, surrounded by flimsy promises of loyal companionship. It is worse that these ads are often answered.
The truth is sex will not satisfy these lonely people. It may temporarily deaden their pain, but it will not fill the emptiness of their souls. Only love expressed through lasting and meaningful relationships, especially a relationship with an almighty God, can do that.
Russ Young, Christian, free-lance writer and a former pastor, may be reached at RussYoung@thelifeline.net .