Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Friendship by Numbers
Technology is an innovation that is to be applauded for the way it has changed the way we work, play and rest. It can be used to find ways to ease loneliness. Facebook isn't the enemy but I use it in this post to show how one can have many friends but still be lonely.
In a report titled, 'The Lonely Society', released by the Mental Health Foundation, loneliness is defined as a 'situation experienced by the individual...where there is an unpleasant or inadmissible lack of certain relationships..' In other words, one can have many friends but still remain in a lonely state if those relationships do not sustain or provide you with elements of friendship. In Genesis 2:18, the reference to loneliness is defined as a situational existence, ' No man should be alone'.
Upon reading these definition I pondered on the question of which factions of churchgoers would be particularly at risk of suffering from loneliness. Obviously, all of us have at some time or another suffered from bouts of loneliness because it is inherent in human nature to feel rather alone in reaction to certain situations or event. However, are there any among us who could be suffering on a prolonged basis? Immigrants, perhaps, who have endured hardships in their countries and have fled to the UK for safekeeping; mothers with young children who stay at home; and the elderly?
In fact, in the conclusion and recommendations chapter of the report it states that the way communities are formed is a fluid concept in modern day. The concept of community isn't a stagnant one anymore where people live on in the place where they were born. People now move away to other cities and countries. Globalisation has encouraged people to seek better lives in other countries. Wars cause people to flee their homelands. The elderly don't know their neighbour anymore. Mothers don't always have access to other mothers with children. The challenge for us as Christians is to be sensitive to those in our churches who could particularly be suffering from loneliness.