If you are feeling more detached from others or have a diminished sense of community, you are with the majority of Americans. Health authorities are now saying that “Loneliness is an epidemic, and the health risks are ‘profound,’ US surgeon general warns.” I probably could have told them that. Senior Americans prefer the human checkout lines to the self-checks just so they can speak to their favorite cashier. We are being told that isolation and loneliness are as damaging to Americans’ individual and public health as are smoking and obesity. Maybe that is why Trader Joe has only cashiers–no self-checkouts. You always engage in a Trader Joe’s checkout.
Nearly half of the US adults reported loneliness in recent years. In 2021 Cigna healthcare showed 79% of people ages 18 to 24 reported feeling lonely–a rate nearly twice as high as that of seniors ages 66 and older. Some of the figures are startling. It puts people at greater risk for anxiety and depression, increases the possibility of dementia by 50%, stroke by 32% and heart disease by 29%. How about this one–the risk of premature death from heightened isolation is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and may be greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity.
Still 20% of people who feel this way do not recognize it as a major problem. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy points out that the US needs to address this epidemic with the same intensity it does to the opiod crisis or smoking. “If we fail to do so, we will pay an ever-increasing price in the form of our indiviual and collective health and well-being. And we will continue to splinter and divide until we can no longer stand as a community or a country.”
Of course, covid only added to this isolation and loneliness. We experienced the decline of social connections, as well as isolation and loneliness, by cutting people off from their support networks. It also gave people a sense of how important those connections are. They saw how less time with friends or family harmed their well-being and that of those around them. We are still trying to rebuild connections and gain back a sense of connection lost during covid.
Recently, I had time with two wonderful friends I had not seen in 3 years. We were just like children. We couldn’t get out all we wanted to say and share in the time we had. It was heaven. We laughed and laughed. We all told each other how much we loved each other and made plans to share Thanksgiving. We were all exhausted from the covid fallouts and agreed how much it had damaged our sense of community. Each of us had been cut off from our favorite activities due to covid. We, as a society, were already on our way to isolation with the telling book “Bowling Alone–The Collapse and Revival of American Community” by Robert Putnam. “
“Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community is a 2000 nonfiction book by Robert D. Putnam. It was developed from his 1995 essay entitled “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital“. Putnam surveys the decline of social capital in the United States since 1950. He has described the reduction in all the forms of in-person social intercourse upon which Americans used to found, educate, and enrich the fabric of their social lives. He argues that this undermines the active civic engagement which a strong democracy requires from its citizens.” Wikipedia
We all need to wake up and pay attention. This is not a passing phase. It can and probably will get stronger as we get deeper entrenched in the detached Aquarian Age. If we want our democracy to prosper, we need to bring back a sense of connection and community. Just as access to voting is essential, social connections make the citizens relevant and included. I do believe religious services and activities are just as much for social connections as religious ones. People from the beginning of time operated in groups and tribes. They were essential for the survival of the species. They still are. We need to put a priority on this.
For me, I would prefer live audiences but everyone is now accustomed to Zoom–even though, I think, they are burned out from Zoom. Just putting a program together and taking it on the road is fraught with the unknown; find a venue, airfare, car rental, hotel, publicity. We have become used to sitting at home and streaming or attending a Zoom lecture, class. Why should we bother to drive to a venue, park etc. when we can just stay home and watch the show? Build a sense of connection and community–that’s why. We will have to go out of our way to attend an event in person. The rewards are subtle but powerful. We make connections.
The Aquarian Age is a powerful, dynamic time period. We are still in the early years of the Age and it will be going out in time for approximately 2000 years. This means that the earth is passing through the constellation of Aquarius and our weather and behavior are affected by this heavenly transit. Aquarius is a fixed air sign. Fixed signs are the most powerful. Air quality means that we will travel more and further by air and our climate will be drier. It is known for its mind and ideas and advanced technology. We will continue to advance in these areas and no doubt will discover and invent things that we can’t even dream of. In order to achieve success with this sign, it requires a degree of detachment. It is not known for its emotional quality as would be a water sign, i.e. Pisces, Scorpio or Cancer. It’s success is in the mind. It is rational and welcomes freedom to think and create through the mind. Hence, more technological advances and less sense of connection. We will have to go out of way to put emphasis in this area if we are to survive. This sign is considered the most dangerous of signs as many civilizations have been lost during this Age. Advancements can happen so quickly that the human cannot keep up with the advances. This is where we get these wild rogue ideas to change water flow or create incredibly advanced weaponry.
America has powerful Aquarian planets in its birth chart. It has always attracted the best and the brightest. It was born at the beginning of the Aquarian Age and encouraged the individual to try and fail. For that reason we have had numerous and ongoing discoveries that improve lives and push futher the human advancement. The downside to American thinking is that of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” Unfortunately, some of us don’t have boots. We focused on the rights of the individual, which is very Aquarian. We forgot that we need to have a community or the collective for lasting success. We were to build the individual on the shoulders of the prior collective Age, the Age of Pisces. We have forgotten to build the social net that connects each and every person
Currently, the system in America is very dysfunctional and cannot survive in the present state. Cracks are showing up all over. “We have growing problems and the potential for a crisis. Could the kind of reforms that would soften the crisis get through this messy process? In today’s bitterly divisive environment, it’s hard to see how we get there before a crisis forces us to think and do what we now consider unthinkable and undoable.” John Maudlin