“The family the soul wants is a felt network of relationship, an evocation of a certain kind of interconnection that grounds, roots, and nestles” (Thomas Moore).
MODERN LIFE CROWDS US INTO CITIES WHERE WE HAVE PHYSICAL PROXIMITY TO MILLIONS OF OTHER HUMAN BEINGS, BUT VERY LITTLE REAL CONNECTION TO ANY OF THEM. Our longing for ties to others is just as deep as ever, but we seem to be losing the ability, or perhaps just the opportunity, to make those ties.
You don’t have to have lived in the world very long to know that connections can sometimes be painful. We’re surrounded by people who’re just as imperfect as we are, and our connections to them will, at least some of the time, involve some discomfort. But even so, we’re better off being connected than disconnected. If there’s a price to be paid for relationship and involvement, it’s a price worth paying.
It is hard, of course, to maintain the right balance between individuality and community. Both in our own lives and the life of society as a whole, we see the pendulum constantly swinging. After a period of over-emphasis on the individual, there is usually a swing toward the groups of which the individual is a member. Then, when that has gone too far, the pendulum swings back in the other direction. Life would probably be a dull affair if every important thing were emphasized equally all the time. But even so, we probably do need to strive for a little more balance in our lives. We need to be careful not to become so involved with our individual concerns that we neglect the connections through which we can show love and render service.
Most of us, from time to time, need a little humility added to our mindset. Whatever we think we’re achieving in this world, our work should be seen within the context of something much larger than our own endeavors. We’re not alone. We live in a world of other people. And if we’ll do right toward our connections, our part in the human story, however small, will be a much more interesting part.
“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetimes; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love” (Reinhold Niebuhr).