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Unwanted: Dead or Alive

With the rise of social media, the increase in people's busy schedules, and the general lack of empathy that pervades our culture, there is an obvious deficit in deep human connection these days. Most are so concerned about themselves and the myriad things they have to do every day that they don't make time to foster and grow personal relationships/friendships with others. As a result, so many people with whom I come in contact feel alone and isolated--disconnected from the world and abandoned. Bon Jovi had it right: "The people I meet always go their separate ways."

Moreover, our current "culture of offense" has further distanced people by creating imagined attacks, affronts, and slights or by taking the art of forgiveness out of the equation. People are so quick to get their feelings hurt and then to hold grudges that they find maintaining relationships to be an impossible task. "Offendedness" is a open sore that eats away at the very heart of people and creates impenetrable obstacles to relationship building. This, of course, only exacerbates feelings of aloneness, abandonment, and isolation.

I'm truly saddened by this state of affairs! So many people don't have edifying relationships because they don't have time for them, and the relationships they do have are often sullied by hyper-sensitivity and/or an unwillingness to let people be people and forgive them for their missteps and "sins." And I don't see it getting better any time soon. "Every day, it seems we're wasting away" more and more. Every day, people feel more and more it doesn't matter whether they are dead or alive.

But there is a solution, and it involves two things to which I've already alluded: empathy and forgiveness. Developing empathy allows us to see the value in others and to experience things from their perspectives. More importantly, it takes the focus off of ourselves and our own "to-do lists"; it breaks us out of our self-absorbed bubbles so we can experience others and life in more enriching ways. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is that "life secret" that helps us to maintain personal relationships when inevitable conflicts occur. And, again, forgiveness encourages us to think about others more and about ourselves less. In short, empathy and forgiveness counter the centrifugal cultural forces that push us away from one another with centripetal forces that pull us together.

Of course, empathy and forgiveness are not so easy to apply to our lives. They both require sacrifice and intentionality. However, for those who can "crack the nut" of application, there is a reward, namely, enhanced relational satisfaction and genuine human connection. And, as relational beings, what could be better for our quality of life? Sure, some people will say that I'm being overly sensitive myself about this topic, but I don't think so. I believe we need to play for keeps on this matter because, well, if we don't, we might not make it back.

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