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The following is excerpted from the Daily Signal. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” mused Blaise Pascal, scientist and anti-Enlightenment philosopher, four centuries ago in his “Pensées.”
Pascal, a man ahead of his time, astutely anticipated the plight of the modern, alienated soul. He would no doubt applaud Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse’s account of Americans’ current predicament: We are lonely—perpetually distracted from what matters by a frenetic news cycle, angry political leaders, and chaotic technology—and have misplaced our meaning in politics. In his book “Them: Why We Hate Each Other—and How to Heal,” Sasse says we must recover our love of community and family if America is to survive.
He is absolutely correct. We all crave community and authentic human relationship. And in spite of being more connected digitally than ever before, we find ourselves further apart. We have fewer friends (over the last 30 years, the average American has gone from three to fewer than two), we are more addicted, and spend more time on the “thin” relationships on social media than “thick” relationships face-to-face.
All this has taken a toll on the collective American soul. It should come as no surprise that our nation’s public sphere and discourse mirror this fracture and discontentment. And we shouldn’t deceive ourselves, Sasse argues, into thinking that the next election result will fix these problems—they were not, after all, caused by politics in the first place.
Sasse’s opening anecdote recounts a 1995 heat wave in Chicago—the deadliest in American history—that he and his wife lived through. Tragically, over the course of a week, 739 people died.
The common thread linking the people who passed away was their lack of community: They did not have people in their neighborhood or family members who thought to check in on them and ensure they moved to cooler places. To compound the loneliness, some of the people who died were found in their homes with piles of unsent letters around them—letters asking for forgiveness and reconciliation with loved ones.
Sasse explains how these deaths illustrate the real danger of an increasingly atomized America: Our loneliness is literally killing us, a fact further underscored by today’s opioid crisis.
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.