Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, you had meaning. You knew you had meaning because you had a mom and a dad who told you so, a God who loved you, and a community that needed you.   Once upon a time, if something happened to you, a significant number of people would mourn your death, not only because you were a good person and a good friend, but also because the community would suffer without your presence and skills. Now, the vast majority of people can barely count on one hand the number of people whose life would be truly altered by their passing.

We have created a society that offers almost none of the things that make people truly happy. Family, community, spiritual belonging are the foundational and primal building blocks of human happiness, and they are rapidly disappearing.  The outcome is predictable – isolation, depression, anxiety, despondency, drug abuse and death.

There is emptiness at the core of our culture.  We fled from God, from meaning, from purpose.  We embraced a soft kind of nihilism that says there is only one life, one reality and it has no meaning aside from what you assign it.   But what happens when you no longer see meaning? Well, our culture says, if you do not see it then it is not there.

Those who seek happiness by following the well-worn paths will inevitably fall into this pit. If you do what everyone else is doing, and live how they live, and walk in their footsteps, you will end up in the same darkness. You will begin to feel that there is no hope and no point and no real beauty or joy to be found in life.

Unfortunately, this is the state in which so many of us are living, a state in which we wallow in nihilistic despair, living hollow lives devoid of substance.  We struggle and flail and reach out for help, but so often the hand that grabs hold will only drag us deeper into the pit.

Our decline is not just mirrored in the rise of mass violence but more broadly in a host of statistics that reveal an epidemic of despair.

According to a 2018 survey from The Economist and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), more than two in ten adults in the United States say they often feel lonely, lack companionship, or feel left out or isolated.  A recent Cigna survey revealed that nearly half of Americans always or sometimes feel alone or left out and  54% said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well.  And it’s not just in the U.S.   A BBC survey said that one-third of Brits admitted feeling lonely and nearly half over the age of 65 admitted that their pets or television were their main source of company.  In Japan, there are more than a half a million people under the age of 40 who haven’t left their home or interacted with anyone for at least 6 months. 

A 2016 VICELAND UK Census,  showed us that loneliness is the number one fear of young people today, ranking ahead of losing a home or a job.  Fully 42% of millennial women are more afraid of loneliness than a cancer diagnosis. This fear has been ingrained into the very lexicon of Millennials, immortalized in acronyms like “FOMO” and its many companion terms.

Technology exacerbates this phenomenon by allowing and encouraging us to isolate ourselves from family and friends even though humans are not designed for isolation.  We require deep and meaningful connection. We need family and community. We are desperate for life and the love of others. We need people and institutions to help us navigate the world, to help us see that we have purpose, to help us understand right from wrong, and to imbue us with a sense of moral clarity that will hold us up during the desperate times we all face.

We have destroy the family, abandon the community, and raze the church to the ground. What could possibly go wrong? Look around you – everything has gone wrong!

“There is a transcendent, spiritual character to humanity, and we all innately recognize it. We find despair when we reject it and try to separate ourselves from it and from ourselves. Hope is found the other way, in the opposite direction. Hope is found when we embrace who we are, as children of God, and we keep our eyes and hearts focused on eternity, on home. God wants us there with Him. But not yet. There is still more to be done, more life to be lived, and we can live it in joy, knowing that there is a meaning and a point to all of this.”  Matt Walsh

Source:  We Killed God, Family and Community – and Now it is killing us, By Thane Bellomo. The Federalist; WALSH: What Really Lies At The Root Of Our Culture’s Suicide Epidemic, Matt Walsh, The Daily Wire;  Millennials And The Loneliness Epidemic by Neil Howe, Forbes

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