In Gary Collins book The Search for the Soul, quotes Mother Teresa who was asked: what is the greatest problem that people in the world face? Her reply was “loneliness.” At the same time the culture of today has been described a time of emptiness and spiritual hunger. In the loneliness and spiritual emptiness that is explicit within our modern culture another term has been used to characterize the outlook of people in modern America; pessimism. Is the cynicism of our age, widespread dissatisfaction with a culture that has embraced rationalism, obsession with technology, only to see increased evidence of war, violence, poverty–environmental pollution–the decline of spiritual influence–things are not getting better with all our technology, an indicator of the absence of distinctives beliefs that can empower hope that transcends, mere, things and provide significance to existence?
The existentialism of the modern world that has put so much emphasis on me and I resulted in a generation of people who are together every day, but we have become solitary islands in the masses of humanity and technology. I recently posted on Facebook, “The hardest thing about being an island is the solitary existence of being alone against the elements. The islands stand alone, solitary and are hardened by circumstances, weather, and time. When the sun goes away and the storms bring the pounding surf and the ravaging winds, the island must stand alone because that is what islands do until they are washed away” (2010). It is a painful and isolated position that many people in the world have arrived at, but have no destination in mind. With all the text-messaging, posting on social networks, and twittering; while people are connected to so many people, they may still be disconnected from healthy, meaningful relationships with others that will bring an efficacious way of living.
One of the great problems that characterize existence today is that life is replete with narcissism and self focused interests. If a person wants to deal with the problem of loneliness and find spiritual answers, then having a meaningful relationship with another person is something that requires integrity, honesty, and willingness to get off the island. Maybe, what is needed is realizing that what is best for others may not be what is best for me and being okay with that. This is the place where an attitude of servant-hood begins. The greatest of all spiritual gifts is the expression of love that is given in a way that sacrifices what benefits me and gives what someone else needs. (1 Corinthians 13.) The great paradox of today is that we have evolved with a great amount of intelligence and technology at our finger tips, but the basic communication skills of people are deficient when it comes to relating to others in ways that foster healthy outcomes.
Has the individualism of the 70’s that spawned humanism, the “Me” generation, the “Now” generation been more than can be absorbed and processed? Alvin Toffler wrote about the stress that too much change to quick has upon culture, “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in people by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time”. It is implicit within the behavior cues that are demonstrated by the absence of effort to connect that there is the subtle deception that says, “everything is all right and that we have become an advanced people”, when the evidence suggests that we are broken and need intervention to address the spiritual emptiness and loneliness of people today. It has been said that, “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions” (Leonardo da Vinci). What can we learn from marriage and divorce statistics? One half of all first marriages failing in the first five years and that sixty percent of all second marriage fail? It is evident that the side effects of an evolving culture has rippling effects that can be seen in the lack of ability to function in relationships which is the thumbprint of the spiritual void in American culture.
One of the great challenges is to understand and not just to diagnose the problem. To possess the ability make a meaningful contribution to life by being a change agent is the challenge. We have the ability to understand, but will we? An imposing truth about what will be the answer to loneliness and the spiritual void may be characterized by a statement of truth, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn” (Alvin Toffler). In the Garden of Eden, the first relationship problems were solved by a spiritual solution to the needs of humanity. What is it that can be learned from that? The people have changed, but the solution remains that when we do not have a right relationship to God, all other relationships disintegrate.
- Future Shock for the Next 40 Years (mediabullseye.com)
- Future Shock at 40: What the Tofflers Got Right (and Wrong) (fastcompany.com)
- Future Shock at 40: The Tofflers Stir Up “Cyberdust” With New Scenarios (fastcompany.com)
- Machine needs: How technology is shaping humanity (newscientist.com)
- The Burden of Choice (psychologytoday.com)
- How to Determine Your Spiritual Gifts (epages.wordpress.com)
- WHY Divorce? (socyberty.com)
- The Future is coming. Are you ready? (Sep, 1979) (modernmechanix.com)
- A Yearly Audit – Working On My Ministry in God’s Business (centralfloridac12.com)
- S. Isabelle Harounian: The Case For Loneliness (huffingtonpost.com)
- Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of “Future Shock” (bigthink.com)
- Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night in the Week–Does it Have to Be? (psychologytoday.com)
- Soul Breaks and Heart Throbs – My Struggle Against Loneliness (windmillfighter.wordpress.com)
- The Cure for Loneliness (psychologytoday.com)
- Epidemic of Loneliness (psychologytoday.com)
- Do You Care More About Your Weight Than Your Spiritual Health? (christianlifehacker.wordpress.com)
- The Ache of Loneliness (breakthroughmoments.wordpress.com)
- Looking Spiritual Only Initially Draws Others: Personal Reflections Of How The False Self Destroys Relationships (joshuarainwater.wordpress.com)
- Futurist Says ‘Cyberdust’ Is Accumulating (descentintodarkness.wordpress.com)
- “The power of youth” (sajmedia.wordpress.com)
- Social Media – Sow Shall Meet You – Meet Your Sow Shalt – Digitalizing Meaningful Conversations – Convening Meritorious Digitization – Computers – Come View Thus – Thus Views Come Forth – Life Responds To Our Outlook Please – God Bless – Respectfully (wearetrulyhappy.wordpress.com)
- God’s answer to loneliness is not the quantity of your relationships, but the quality. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- sometimes real life isn’t so easy… even with Jesus. (tiffyface.wordpress.com)
- Alone and Lonely (psychologytoday.com)
- Alvin Toffler: 40 key trends, the next 40 years (mediafuturist.com)