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How can we eliminate loneliness?

Viewpoint with Rev. Byron Corkum

The news is full of the latest research findings about what seems to be an almost epidemic situation sweeping across our world.

Researchers have found that one of the most serious issues facing people today is loneliness. More and more people are experiencing a sense of loneliness in their lives. These individuals feel like they are adrift in a busy world and no one seems to care.

The situation is of such epic proportions that the British government has appointed a Minister of Loneliness to study the problem and try to find, not just a solution, but ways help people deal with these feelings that can lead to depression and many other health issues. We North Americans are now taking up the cause as well.

What is the reason for this loneliness? I am sure there are many reasons, but when we look at the busy world in which we live, we can see some signs of what has led to this crisis. So many people are attached to their cell phones and other communication devices and even though they have electronic contact with other people, there is little real time, face to face interaction and contact.

I know that for me, texting is okay, but I would really prefer to actually talk to someone on the phone or in person. That personal contact allows you to interact with the other person or people.

Before the advent of television and electronic devices, people got together socially and interacted. It may have been a community dance or card party, a pot luck supper or other event that brought people together. After a week of hard work, people looked forward to Saturday night get-togethers with other people from the community.

Come Sunday, they met other friends at church and church functions during the week.

If we look at Cumberland County, we can see the number of community halls and small churches that were the heartbeat of the community. It was here that people gathered to celebrate or to mourn. Like all things, it wasn’t perfect and conflict arouse, but even those had to be settled in person.

I know it is probably not going to be possible to easily solve this problem because we do live in such a complex age. When I look at Amherst, I see so many opportunities for people to get together with other people. We have a wide array of clubs and organizations that offer fellowship, fun and also give back to the community. The Town’s recreation commission work hard to provide community activities and chances for people to mingle. No matter how much is offered, nothing will work if people do not respond and give it a try. One aspect of dealing with loneliness is to take that leap of faith and attend one or more of the functions.

The church has always offered opportunities for people to get together and share. Often, church is portrayed as a Sunday only event filled with religion, but we often forget what goes on throughout the week in those buildings. I have always appreciated the friendships that come from being part of a church. I also appreciate the fact that I can attend any other church in town and feel welcomed and a part of that community.

Dealing with wide spread loneliness is not going to be quickly overcome, but for those who are feeling lonely, give a community group or a church a try, you might be pleasantly surprised at how welcomed you will feel and how nice it is to interact with other people of varying ages, interests and talents. If we work together, the issue of loneliness can be lessened to the point where it is not so devastating to those who feel outside the mainstream.

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