#72   The Loneliness

We are perhaps the most personally-disconnected generation of human beings who have ever lived. We have more of every sensual, physical, and intellectual amusement than humanity has ever had. Amazing, marvellous electronic devices small enough to carry in a briefcase, or even in a hand, can connect wirelessly to millions of other devices, even on the other side of the earth. Sex, real or vicarious, is abundant and cheap, and love is not required. Gratuitous violence is everywhere, on the streets, and in our TV shows. Yet none of our excesses have satisfied us as human beings, and in all the rush and clutter of modern life, we sometimes find ourselves spiritually alone, and personally barren at heart.

In this cyber age, we are spending more time with machines than with each other. People are finding themselves isolated from each other and from direct human contact and genuine communication like never before. We chat on cell phones about nothing, even when we are in the middle of a crowd of real live people. Our young people spend most of their waking hours with music plugged directly into their ears, blocking out everything else, and walk around in a separate, private, mechanically-generated other-world that has no depth or reality at all.

Virtually all of our children’s games and the majority of our movies and TV shows are about violence, cars and buildings exploding in flames, and not just murders, but hideously sick and horrible murders and mutilations. This is our children’s and our young adult's world. The goal and object of their games and cartoons - the principles they learn about life - are that the main thing is to kill and destroy others quickly and cleverly, because others are trying to destroy you. They learn over and over by endless repetitions of the theme, that this is the essence of what life is.

Kids don’t play anymore. They sit indoors or at the back of the schoolyard engrossed in their cyber-toys. And Mom is in the kitchen with the TV on (if there is a Mom at home) and Dad is in the den surfing the internet (if there is a Dad at home.) And the teens are texting.

Separation seems endemic and "normal" in human society today. In the developed countries of the world, divorce rates are near 50 percent. Wars for power cram the news, along with street crimes and violence, daily gang murders, family murders, and arson fires, all done by people who felt justified in doing that because somebody else had hurt them in some way. Many of us don't even know how to talk anymore, so we just strike out in anger or fear, just like we see on TV and the video games. Life is pretty impersonal, so huge financial corporations cheat everybody by manipulating numbers in computer databases for no better reason than greed. What ever happened to decency? What ever happened to love? What ever happened to humanity?

I'm not saying that computers are bad - they are mindless machines; they are useful and necessary tools. They are neither bad nor good. Unfortunately - for those who want to lie, cheat, steal, or avoid facing real life, cyber technology makes it easier than ever to do. But the choice is still ours - the choice is always open.

I miss the movies about the human spirit overcoming obstacles. Stories of personal courage and honor, decency and honesty. People being in love gently, with grace and dignity. Stories of success in life after strong faith and honest work. What ever happened to these things? And what ever happened to the close warm forgiving circle of safety of the family?

Is there anyone else out there who feels this too - that this world we have made for ourselves is not working? We made it this way with our day-to-day choices. Nobody and no government can change it; we have to change it within ourselves, one by one. And we have to choose to. Surely there are a few million who miss the old values of honesty, decency, kindness and fairness as a chosen lifestyle. If you are out there - please note that I am out here too.

Sometimes when I sit down at the end of a long workday and let my thoughts grow still, and stop the churning cogs and gears of my stressed-out mind long enough to listen to my own heart, my own feelings, the ones I never express in public, I find that I am lonely.

My life is good; I’m healthy and I have a good job. I have a place to live that’s safe and good neighbors and friends at work. My life, though simple, is certainly blessed. But one thing is missing. I’m single, without a close companion. I’ve been happy this way for years, but every so often there is a little feeling that comes up - I think it's part of the human condition to want to share our lives with someone else. Someone we can trust, who would laugh with us in the good times, hug us when troubles and failures come, celebrate with us when we succeed at something we’ve worked very hard for, and walk with us simply and loyally and kindly through whatever life brings.

This, after all else is considered, is really what we all want. Many of us even though we may actually have that, on the surface of things, we don’t really connect at the deeper level at all. Whether or not we experienced that kind of closeness from our parents, when we are adults we’re on our own. Our life is whatever we have the courage to make it.

Consciously or unconsciously we will all seek some kind of partner and best friend that is a permanent part of our life, or at least as permanent as this life can be. We do this in all kinds of forms. In friendships, in sex, in marriage, in seeking to control others for our own satisfaction. Good and bad choices, selfish and unselfish motives, eventually all come down to this basic human dilemma: each of us, in a deep place, secretly fears that we are alone in the universe. And that is a terrible soul-wrenching feeling.

We may seek the perfect girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, spouse, or we may join a profession, a team, a club, or a religion. Sooner or later we will all realize the simplest source of not being alone, the most frightening and courageous relationship of all: and we will seek God. When we do, we find that God has never been anywhere else but right here, with us, all the time. But we haven’t had the courage to confront that possibility. Why not? Because we are so afraid that God may not be real after all, or worse, that God will not want us. That God might not love us.

With all these thoughts jumbled together in my mind, thoughts about myself and thoughts about humankind, and about the times in my life when I was more involved in the mix of things, surrounded by my family and all the lifestream, with easy any effortless close connections to others - a simple, familiar wish floats to the top of all those thoughts - a wish that I could feel loved instead of alone. I’ve had many great adventures, independent and strong and courageous. But now I have outgrown that drive for independence and the rebelliousness of youth, and here I am where I have chosen to be, yet wanting to change again.

In the twilight quiet of this day, I turned to the inner Counselor as I have done so many times before, and with my thoughts and words, I asked the voice of Spirit to tell me about this - the loneliness in our world, my own personal loneliness, and my wish to change my life once again.

After much wandering of thoughts and feelings I finally said simply “Dear counselor, Christ Spirit, I am wanting, asking, and hungering, for life more abundant. Yes even though I know I have been so very blessed, I want be blessed more. I want love to come into my life, and fill it with energy and joy... Please tell me how.” And I sat waiting in silence for the answer to come.

I never know what the inner voice will say. It very often speaks some truth that is astonishing in its power and simplicity and yet I had not recognized before. And with each new truth, my soul and my life both grow a little more. I share this now with you because I believe it speaks to all of us, and because I know there may be many like me who are seeking deeper connections in life, and yet afraid of what you might find. The truth is, we could have a better life, a happier, deeper life for ourselves and our children. If we choose to, we can reclaim our humanity and recreate our world.

Beloved, Just as the light breaks new each day, so shall a new chapter open for you. Your life has just begun and now begins again each new day. Everything is possible - just as it always was, it always has been and always will be.
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