“You know what it’s like around here? I have watched television. I have seen Brochures. It is impossible to not All the Time be thinking about how other people have Lives, Jack. Other people talk to people. [There’s people out there that all they do is Talk to one another] and there’s me.” -from the play On An Average Day by John Kolvenbach
“During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness. The elderly man who came to our hospital every few weeks seeking relief from chronic pain was also looking for human connection: He was lonely. The middle-aged woman battling advanced HIV who had no one to call to inform that she was sick: She was lonely too. I found that loneliness was often in the background of clinical illness, contributing to disease and making it harder for patients to cope and heal.” Loneliness, he wrote, is associated “with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and anxiety.” -Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy writing in the Harvard Business Review
“School performance, public health, crime rates, clinical depression, tax compliance, philanthropy, race relations, community development, census returns, teen suicide, economic productivity, campaign finance, even simple human happiness – all are demonstrably affected by how (and whether) we connect with our family and friends and neighbors and co-workers.” -Robert Putnam from his book, Bowling Alone
But I’m just so tired of this loneliness
I’ve become so tired of this loneliness -Coldplay, song “Yes”
I’m so tired of being alone
I’m so tired of on my own -Al Green, song “Tired Of Being Alone”
As the below two articles and numerous books point out, we have an epidemic of loneliness in this country and the world.
One recent study shows that loneliness raises the risk of death by heart attack or stroke by a third. It’s a bigger killer than obesity. It also leads to extremism, division and violence.
We need to do everything we can to combat this epidemic. There are so many ways to do so. Especially through volunteering in your local community. Even simple things like smiling and waving at someone can go a long way.
Making art is another way. One of the reasons I love theatre so much is people gather together in a shared space. We watch live persons going through some intense stuff, which powerfully connects us. It engenders empathy and greater understanding for the human condition. And I believe it can literally change us at the molecular level.
Today and every day ask yourself what can you do to help people feel a little less alone. Let’s be kind and take care of each other. Cause we’re all we got.