“We are here to awaken from the illusion of separateness.”
– Thich Nhat Hahn as cited in The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
In my ethics class this last week, the question of the “disappearance of community” was a point of lengthy discussion. The lamenting of this societal loss is not new. In the book by Robert Putnam Bowling Alone published fifteen years ago, the phenomenon of lost “social capital” was extrapolated on at length, from Bowling Alone’s website:
“The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all ‘social networks’ [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [‘norms of reciprocity’].”
While this particular definition is a little clinical for my taste, I basically agree with the premise: community is important and fulfills needs.
The absence of this “social capital’ is worth lamenting. Loneliness is an issue. If you search “statistics on loneliness in the United States,” you will find the following articles:
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner- what is it?
if not the intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.
– Rilke, via Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach
So, I believe this post is about human’s desire to connect and the many and varied ways we fail and succeed to do so, but I found myself winding and weaving through various sources of inspiration I have recently encountered, so bare with me! It will be an interesting and (slightly?) tangential ride. (I hope.)
I recently joined a book club, and due to some procrastination on my part, I went on a three-day reading binge this weekend to finish Delicious Foods by James Hannaham for my first meeting. I am an empathetic reader, so engrossing myself in the world of a book that begins with a teenage boy escaping an unknown but clearly terrifying situation in a car he is trying to drive without his recently dismembered hands was not an easy read.