Loneliness has always been a problem for me. I’ve never felt particularly accepted in any group I’ve been part of, regardless of other’s efforts to the contrary. My dad was the same way. I think we both just preferred our own thoughts to having to figure out what other people were thinking or to feign interest when our mind was elsewhere. Oddly enough I think a lot of people might have considered both of us extroverts in a lot of ways, though I think in both cases, it was as a defense mechanism rather than any innate desire to put ourselves out there.
In my darkest hours, I’ve never considered hurting anyone else because I felt isolated and alone. I guess I’m not built that way. But I can understand how someone more vulnerable to peer pressure or the influence of other people might be pushed to doing something horrible. In looking at the horrible events of the past few weeks and months (Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston) I don’t see a political problem, I see a cultural problem. We have become so isolated from each other that it just becomes much easier to lose track of our collective humanity and empathy for each other. The Me decade of the 70s and the elevation of selfishness to a virtue in the 80s are leading us to the disintegration of our culture and our society.
Lest you think I’m being too harsh, listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or any of the other people who seem to spend most of their time telling their listeners that they are the only ones that know the Truth and that everyone else is a liberal stooge or worse a sheeple. Or listen to the conspiracy theorists who feel so insignificant and small that they have to invent conspiracies that only they know about to ease those feelings.
But if you’re not involving yourself in your community or with other people on even a minimal basis, you’re part of the problem. Hell, I’m part of the problem. My wife and I made a new years resolution to do at least an hour of community service a month, unfortunately, that has turned into another paving stone, but now that I’m starting to feel like I might be able to get out of bed without being in agonizing pain in the morning (Get Off My Lawn!) I might just be able to manage going out and helping someone else feel better instead of feeling sorry for myself.