What do a recent rap song, Johnny Cash, the movie Fight Club, and the Bible have in common? A post on society and the ones we love.
“No man is an island, entire of itself…” – John Donne.
This quote has stayed with me for over twenty five years. I have used it, in conversations, in my classroom. I have felt it, when I was in my third year of college, after transferring to a university from community college. Classes were huge, and I felt very alone. Over the years, I learned the value of forming friendships for many different reasons, to handle difficult situations at work, to enjoy life a little more, to have someone to talk to, or to share a value with others (such as charity, faith, volunteerism, recovery). People go to many types of places to feel a part of a community: hobby/enthusiast groups, church, bars. That’s quite a variety of places, but a lot of it starts because we need someone to talk to. Some of us are fortunate enough for it to happen in the workplace. It sure makes working a lot more fun. Some are not that fortunate, and have to seek other places like the aforementioned. I imagine, in early civilization, hunter/gatherers survived cold weather and wild animals better if they banded together to survive. Farmers usually rely on a community to get their work done. They have to get along to get things done together. I look at these huge farms in the Midwest and I know just one man alone could have never gotten all that done. Community seems, to me, to be a key to survival for mankind.
The Christian Bible preaches the value of community. I made a promise to myself to use or read the Bible more often during Lent this year. It’s not too much of a cheat if I found relevant verses in an online subject search, is it? From http://dailyverses.net/community : “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 | NIV
Since the Dark Ages, even earlier, people have gathered together to appreciate art, music, and Literature to enrich their lives and minds. I am seeing that as one way we “walk in the light.” We still gather to do these things. Sometimes we just enjoy them in a solitary way. I don’t mean to contradict myself here….
Or, take this Bible verse about supporting each other, maybe even inspiring one another to be better people:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
But yet, there is plenty of fuel to fire the opposing argument, that the lone wolf is that way because he chooses to be because he is totally independent. In a current, popular song, that I just heard for the first time today while switching stations, by G-Easy, the lyrics go like this: “It’s just me, myself, and I/ Solo right until I die/ Because I’ve…got me for life.” I at first thought the song might be a little narcissistic, then I watched the video (uncut lyrics). It depicts a star who really struggles with himself and the fame that has come to him, perhaps realizing his large number of false friends. Perhaps that just comes with fame and riches. I may never have that problem. I’ll admit the lyrics are catchy. I was drawn to them after hearing Jonny Cash’s rendition of Empire of Dirt, a song that could make me cry on a gray day. Similar themes, but quite a switch!
And then there was an article shared by a Facebook friend today as well, titled “Why Millions of Men Lose Friends in their 20s,” available at http://www.vice.com/read/why-men-lose-friends-in-their-20s?utm_source=vicefbus
which totally touches upon the subject as perhaps not always being a choice, or sometimes being a regrettable one. “As we get older….we might start to wonder whether there’s a reason most wolves hunt in packs.” As if most men interviewed by the writer seemed to acknowledge that life would be easier if they had a “pack.” By the way, the falling away of friendships in your 20s happens just as much to women. But it was good to read from this perspective since I get concerned about my son in his young adulthood and his lack of community or even any concern for being part of a community.
Of course, modern technology makes it easier to do everything from the confines of our home, even conversing with others (through our acronyms, LOL). Thereby, it decreases active participation in a community.The quality of conversation has really declined, BTW. 🙂 On an average day for many, our survival involves sitting in our cubicle, pecking away at a computer under artificial light. Hmmm…I am getting an image from the movie Fight Club! Ed Norton or Brad Pitt with a shiner, what a way to fight the artificially lighted cubicle! The word “club” stands out here in my mind, almost as much as Brad’s shiner. His character started out as a socially awkward young man, feeling withdrawn from society. Modern culture seems to perpetuate that. We were all so much thicker skinned in the past, but we did it through community and teamwork. That was a key to our survival as a species. It is even helpful today. Without it, there may be many lone wolves, but I doubt their descendants will go too far.
I’ll put this in my own personal terms. Sometimes I need something to do that I know will benefit someone else; that gets me away from selfish concerns or worries. Or I need to talk to someone about anything that will get me out of my head or my worries (that sometimes can chase themselves like a dog chasing its tail). I know community is a key to survival. I also love my lone wolves, especially since my son is one of them, and I know he needs love and acceptance, even when he accepts it so tentatively. I think they have an important place in our community, if for no other reason than to fix things, build things, produce art, Literature, or music to make us think or help us escape. Then there are also those who think up the theoretical ideas, yet can’t talk in a social setting. They are still invaluable. Perhaps the lone wolf is, at times, an inspiration to the broken-hearted or newly single? They’d never admit it, but in some way, they do need us. I just hope they realize they mean something to the rest of us. Yet, I see that I have to accept anyone’s choice to be outside of community. So do we just leave them be? As a mother, I adamantly say, No.
I just hope our lone wolves realize they mean something to the rest of us. Yet, I see that I have to accept anyone’s choice to be outside of community. Take the example of my son. One may speak to him and get very little reply. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect you. It’s just, you may have interrupted a thought process; he may have to work hard to switch that off. But he may have really needed those kind words, even if you got very little response. You see, I’ve been working on understanding this. His mentor that we knew from church was learning this. One day, he told me, “I got a smile and a chuckle out of him today. It was a real smile!” Yes, I believe it was. Sometimes that’s all you get. God bless him for trying. Maybe we can’t change a lone wolf into a social being, but just let them know they’re loved and accepted. Awkward can be awesome. If we are truly a loving community that will survive together, we should be checking up on our lone wolves, and embracing those Emily Dickensens and Van Goghs, long before they’ve left us with nothing but their art or interesting memorabilia collections.