An Answer To Loneliness

 This week the Berwick Advertisier published my Thought for the Week. This is it:

 Loneliness afflicts our communities like a plague. It is so serious that the UK government has appointed its first ever minister for loneliness. What are the causes, the consequences and the remedies?

 More widowed people live longer. More young people feel estranged from their parents. A model of society has taken over that assumes that humans are selfish and that we should pursue whatever creates money. The me-first  society destroys community and well-being. We blanket out our resulting loneliness in drugs, alcohol or activism. Treatment of depression takes a huge toll on our National Health Service.

 What can we do about it? We can re-think how we plan housing. Newcastle’s Bishop Christine recently said in Parliament’s second chamber: ‘If we are truly to solve the crisis we need to build communities where people can put down roots and thrive. All too often our housing developments sit at two ends of a spectrum. At one end, new social or affordable housing, usually very small units too small for families, cramped limited space, sometimes shoddily built. At the other end site developments of luxury homes priced beyond the reach of local households. We are witnessing the hollowing out of communities along the fault lines of social class and income.  We need to preserve the diversity of our communities which is a cherished feature of our nation.’  With this approach some of the empty spaces in Berwick’s shopping streets could be used for housing.

 But the answer to loneliness goes even deeper than a  good housing mix. Over half of us admit to pollsters that we pray. Saint Augustine prayed ‘Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee’. We brought nothing in to this world and we take nothing out, but we can make our spiritual home in the eternal, hospitable communion in the heart of God.






Posted at 07:24am on 2nd March 2019
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