It occurred to me last night that I could blog for the rest of my life on the subject and never be able to capture all of the many faces of loneliness. It’s a disease of the heart (and of the mind) that comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sex, race, religion, occupation or sexual orientation. It’s equally insidious whether its object is young or old, gifted or simple, successful or downtrodden – rich or poor. There is no “vaccine” that will insulate us from loneliness. No one is immune from its wrath. In fact, sooner or later, all of us will experience it, albeit in varying degrees of intensity and for widely disparate periods of time. Like most afflictions of its kind, loneliness is “invisible” to the naked eye. Neither it, nor the voids it creates, can be captured on an x-ray or an MRI, but it is no less real or potentially life-threatening than even the most unspeakable of physical ailments.
Despite its prevalence and its undeniable power to destroy the lives it infects, however, loneliness seldom, if ever, receives the same attention from its sufferers and/or the treatment professionals who are often called in to assist its victims when the “by-products” of its handiwork begin to manifest themselves, as do more “obvious” physical diseases – and that, in itself, is a problem. Because in my humble opinion, loneliness is rapidly becoming an epidemic in our society and the sooner all of us realize that and begin to focus our resources and energies on combating it, the better off we’ll be – individually and collectively. With that in mind, I thought I’d utilize this post to kick off a grass roots campaign to help eradicate loneliness in what’s left of my lifetime. I know that sounds a bit ambitious (and it is), but all campaigns of its kind have to begin sometime/somewhere and here and now is as good a place and time as any. Indeed, such a movement is long overdue!
Actually, the idea came to me while listening to a recent sports talk radio show. In it, the frustrated host sought to mollify his disgruntled listeners by asking them to pretend that they were the GM of one of our struggling sports franchises and had the absolute power to make whatever changes they felt were necessary to get the team back on a winning track. An avalanche of calls followed, as one listener after another first identified and then offered “creative” solutions for what each perceived to be the factors that had led to the team’s struggles. I thought: “Why not adopt a similar approach where loneliness is concerned?” I’ll simply pretend I’ve been appointed to be the nation’s first “Loneliness Czar” and, as part of that appointment, been vested with the power to implement whatever policies or social changes I deem necessary to stem the tide of loneliness and restore a sense of belonging and acceptance to its current or former sufferers.
I hope you’ll tune in. Between us, we might just save a life.