The biggest problem we face these days

Nowadays all too few are aware of the biggest problem for many people: they are lonely. When questioned on this subject, respondents unthinkingly reply that their primary concerns are the economy, terrorism, health care or perhaps poverty – the loneliness of so many seems to be ignored.

As a background, it should be recognized that loneliness to some extent is a state of mind, or a result of an individual’s temperament, expression or recognition of certain events that colours one’s judgement. Clearly a source of discontent, loneliness is the failure of society to provide any awareness of certain values that an individual may cherish. However, above all, people are lonely because of the absence of human contact.

In our current society, countless numbers are alone, particularly those without any nurturing family. Across the entire population, first and foremost, the elderly are lonely and their problems often are compounded by disabilities.

Other societies cope with the problem of lonely individuals in a manner that should shame us. The so-called primitive groups are more likely to be inclusive, with everyone part of the community and no one left without a role in life. Grandparents assist with children and even the older males participate in daily life. Everyone is included in each event and all aspects of the community.    .  That is in sharp contrast to the way people are treated in North America. The elderly are shunted aside, usually to a senior citizen residence, some of which are absolutely appalling and where abuse is commonplace.

In previous generations, even after marriage families continued to live together, with households frequently comprising three generations. That is rarely the situation today. How many elderly parents now live in the same house with their adult children? Young people in great numbers reject that side of togetherness and as is often the case, feel no obligation to their parents.

Of course, following that precedent, they ignore the fact that they too will be alone and lonely in later years. When the customary social framework no longer can satisfy most individuals, then a serious discrepancy emerges between the historic standards of society and the personal needs of the individual.

That is what has taken place in recent decades. That affects the nation’s economy and the productivity of many individuals, which frequently is at rock bottom.When one realizes how much the community and the economy lose, that should be a wake-up call for us to make changes.

There certainly should be a government funded organization catering to the entire family. Schools must begin to teach family responsibility, more important than courses in financial management.

If we made a concerted effort to reduce loneliness, the results could be startling – a more productive and stronger economy and a much happier population.


Bruce Whitestone