I was reminded recently that my way is not the only way.
Now let’s be clear, I know that my way isn’t the only way, but every so often I forget, and get reminded of this simple, yet powerful reality. This most recent reminder came after a crazy few days where I was focused on things that only affected me and mattered to me. Looking back, it seems that I get confronted by this obvious fact (and lesson) after an extended period of “it’s all about me activities.”
The Curse of Being Alone Together
We live in communities, we work in offices filled with people, we spend hours every year in public spaces for sport, cultural, religious and economic activities. We do all of these things surrounded by people yet we feel all alone. To make matters worse, when we find ourselves in community, we focus our attention on small screens – now let me be the first to stand at the front of the guilty-as-charged line when it comes to being glued to my iPhone.
Are we cursed to be alone together? Is this a recent phenomenon?
It appears not to be. In his 2006 book title ‘Searching for Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls’, M. Craig Barnes shares the following words once spoken by Robert Kennedy:
In far too many places – in pleasant suburbs as well as city streets – the home is a place to sleep and eat and watch television; but where it is located is not community. We lives in too many places and so we live nowhere. Long ago Alexis de Tocqueville foresaw the fate of people without community: “Each of them living apart is a stranger to the fate of all the rest – his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind; as for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he seeks them not; he touches them but he feels them not … he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.”
When we get wrapped up in our own lives, or get focussed on “it’s all about me” activities it’s easy to think that what we’re doing is the most important thing. It’s also easy to come to the conclusion that the way we do things or choose to live our lives is the only way.
Here’s to Hoping de Tocqueville Was Wrong
I know I have my selfish moments but I hope that we’re not forever destined to live in a world where being present to the community we live in and to each other takes second billing to being focused on ourselves.
The world around us is full of possibilities, inspiration and new ways of doing things. Let’s be curious and seek out new ideas, new friendships and new ways of doing what we do. I’m convinced that our curiosity will be rewarded.
Together, let’s prove Alexis de Tocqueville wrong and “make our children and private friends” just a small part of the tapestry that makes up the life we live!
Image Credit: Ryan McGuire and Gratisography.