TIMES FOR CONNECTION

We are social animals. We cannot be an isolated self. Affluence allows us to become more and more independent from each other. It allows us to isolate ourselves.

This is the big irony. We are “wealthier” than most people on earth yet we are lonelier than most people on earth. The “stuff” that we buy with our wealth, the “safety” that we buy with our wealth, the “independence” that we buy with our wealth, it all seems to diminish the very thing that gives life meaning - the generative power of human connection. Our wealth is making us scared. Depressed. And small.


David Brooks wrote an awesome column about The Great Affluence Fallacy:

In 18th-century America, colonial society and Native American society sat side by side. The former was buddingly commercial; the latter was communal and tribal. As time went by, the settlers from Europe noticed something: No Indians were defecting to join colonial society, but many whites were defecting to live in the Native American one...

The colonials occasionally tried to welcome Native American children into their midst, but they couldn’t persuade them to stay…

During the wars with the Indians, many European settlers were taken prisoner and held within Indian tribes. After a while, they had plenty of chances to escape and return, and yet they did not. In fact, when they were “rescued,” they fled and hid from their rescuers...

Sometimes the Indians tried to forcibly return the colonials in a prisoner swap, and still the colonials refused to go.

I am not one to romanticize the past. I am not arguing that we should return to the lifestyle of indigenous people - although I am convinced that it holds remarkably important wisdom. But I do believe that our culture is in crisis. And that it is this crisis that yields patriarchal violence, xenophobic politics, and the devastation of the planet.

Ours is a crisis of connection.

Any effort that seeks transformation, any work that means to make a better world, is an effort that must address this crisis of connection. Our job to connect. And nurture spaces for connection. Our work is to nurture authenticity, to allow for courageous vulnerability, to open ourselves to each other and to invite others into spaces that are more real, more open.

David Brooks is hopeful and I am hopeful too. He observes that 

If millennials are heading anywhere, it seems to be in the direction of community…

Professionally, millennials are famous for bringing their whole self to work: turning the office into a source of friendships, meaning and social occasions...

They are anti-institutional and anti-systems...

Millennials are oriented around neighborhood hospitality, rather than national identity or the borderless digital world. “A neighborhood is the place where you live and sleep.” How many of your physical neighbors know your name?

It seems like a great way to start.