Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

loneliness and dispair

Monday, February 09, 2004

There is a tendency to think of loneliness and periodic despair as a part of teenage/young adult angst. Somehow, we all go through that, and most of us come out the other end. It’s both sad and important to realize, though, that this loneliness and feeling of helplessness affects many, perhaps most at some point or another, even through adulthood. Thoreau, in Walden, made one of his most quoted observations: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” How sad that we cannot or will not lift each other up. In a continually hectic and fragmented society, how do we reach out to those around us who need support? How do we ask for that support when we need it? What is lacking in our communities that this seems so difficult?

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty – it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

- Mother Teresa

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