The Number One Disease In America

There are surely many and numerous deadly diseases out there which can kill you. In America there is one disease that is killing more people than any other. It’s the disease of loneliness. It’s a form of suffering so palpable you can taste it. It can strike you when you are alone or when you are in a crowd. Of all the human diseases it is the one I wish I could most find a cure for. Certainly no song captures loneliness more poignantly than the Beatles “Eleanor Rigby.” That song is absolutely gut wrenching. Thinking of a woman putting make-up on for no one, and the guy who is darning his socks alone makes me want to scream. I can’t stand to see someone eating alone in public. I have to fight the urge not to join them. The Beatles haunting question is the question of our time: “All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?” I don’t know, but I surely have been one of them.

I have observed myself and how I deal with loneliness. I always respond to it with “too much.” I eat too much, I work too much, I spend too much, I cry too much. You get the idea. Some people go to darker lengths: they drink too much, take too many drugs, watch pornography.

It’s becoming more rare to find people you really connect with on a heart level. If you find someone like that, hang on to them. You have found a gem. Americans have become a people who are great at making a living and terrible at making a life. Our wallets are full but our hearts are empty. We Facebook, we e-mail, we Twitter, we text, when really we just want someone to touch us in a meaningful way. We long for someone to know us. We want someone to engage us, to stimulate our minds and move our hearts. To do that one must be a person of depth and those are getting more rare too. I know I desire to relieve the loneliness of others. I try to make it a point to physically touch people. I give them hugs. More importantly I try to influence and move their hearts in the deepest places. I try to offer words that encourage and build up. If I relieve the loneliness of one person I consider myself to have made a difference.

2 thoughts on “The Number One Disease In America”

  1. I agree that we’re often connecting on a surface level – much communication does not equal good/deep communication.

    I must disagree, however, with your apparent assumption that someone eating out alone is lonely. Now that I stay home with my little ones, I consider eating out by myself a TREAT! Particularly if I have a great book to read. =) In fact, one Friday evening I happened to be out running errands and stopped for some Chinese and a little reading time. As I walked into the restaurant I thought, “I must be an official adult: eating alone on a Friday night because I WANT to!”

    1. It is true that not everyone who is dining alone is lonely. MFK Fisher, noted food critic wrote in her book “Gastronomical Me” that she often dined alone and enjoyed it immensely. She would not only dine alone, she would be enjoying a multi-course exquisite French meal. Perhaps if that were the case, I wouldn’t mind dining alone either.

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