Given the highlighting of loneliness over the past many months, I’m not surprised that someone would come up with a religious response to the issue. Recently a FOX News blog post ran on their website titled “God may have put you in a lonely place for an incredible reason”. The article begins with background information on the current state of loneliness in our culture. Then the author, Pastor Rick McDaniel, dives into the meat of his essay.
His argument is that it’s during our lonely times we can turn to god. McDaniel describes this as a great opportunity to be closer to this supreme being. Throughout the article McDaniel confuses the idea of being alone and being lonely. He speaks of loneliness as being a situation without having anyone around. Instead, as I’ve highlighted before, being lonely is about not having the connections you want.
McDaniel writes that loneliness can develop our character. The only example he gives is that our patience can increase while we wait in our loneliness. Speaking from experience, I can assure you there are many less painful ways of learning patience. I wouldn’t suggest someone become lonely as a means to learn that ability.
McDaniel also states that loneliness can inspire us to become creative. Yet here he once again confuses being alone and loneliness. He seems to think it is when we are alone that we find we can tap into our creative juices and birth great achievements. Solitude does allow us to work well. I’m writing this while I sit alone in my apartment, but that won’t take me out of feeling lonely. The act of writing a piece about loneliness won’t bring me the connections I desire.
Finally, McDaniel expresses the idea that loneliness can create in us a desire to serve others. It’s not clear to me why loneliness is necessary to serve others. Here, once again, he confuses loneliness with being alone. I can understand how in solitude one might reflect and realize the needs of others. Yet, one doesn’t have to be feeling disconnected from those around them to have the desire to serve others. I would hope that might come from empathy toward others and love for our fellow human beings.
In McDaniel’s article, all his responses point back to going to god for support and finding solace there when one is lonely. This, unfortunately, leaves many individuals who do not believe in god without a solution to their loneliness. I can appreciate someone offering their two cents on the issues of loneliness. *ahem* Yet people in positions of authority peddling out useless advice that offers an incorrect understanding of the concept about which they’re writing are no help to anyone. If anything, they’re a hindrance to those who might be trying to find a way clear of their loneliness.
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