If anyone was looking for a summary of a core problem in American society, from former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s lovely book, Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World:
While loneliness engenders despair and ever more isolation, togetherness raises optimism and creativity. When people feel they belong to one another, their lives are stronger, richer, and more joyful.
And yet, the values that dominate modern culture instead elevate the narrative of the rugged individualist and the pursuit of self-determination.
To be at home is to be known. It is to be loved for who you are. It is to share a sense of common ground, common interests, pursuits, and values with others who truly care about you.
In community after community, I met lonely people who felt homeless even though they had a roof over their heads.
And, when people are desperate for community, the ones most emotionally convenient or accepting may not be ones that provide meaningful uplift.
Communities that focus on us vs. them distinctions, scapegoating, and villainization aren’t about bringing people together. They’re about frustration and fear.