Thursday, 23 September 2010

Social Isolation

by Peter Lockhart

I grew up in country towns where you walked down the street and for the most part got a nod and smile from people as you walked past. People you knew stopped to chat. Even driving on the roads people gave an acknowledgement lifting a hand or even simply a few fingers from the wheel as they drove past. Even if you didn't know people there was a basic acknowledgement of our shared existence.

Living in Brisbane I marvel at the notion that we are socially isolated beings in the city. Walking through a shopping centre which has 100s even 1000s of people you can feel totally alone. No one looks you in the eye and if you try to acknowledge another passing consumer more often than not their eyes dart away to some point of oblivion off in the distance. Even interactions with people on the check out in some stores is being taken away from us in the ever greater quest for expedience.

Yet God made us for community and relationships. God invites us to get to know the stranger and to help each other be all that we can be. God sends us out to share good news with others, but if we are not allowed to communicate apart from via electronic means like facebook how do we really grow in a relationship well enough to say what difference Jesus has made to my life.

As I look at my own interactions I wonder how well I am doing. How well are you doing? Do you know your neighbours names? Do you talk to strangers you see regularly and build a relationship? Or do you live in relationship ghettos which keep the curtains firmly closed and the security code on the door? What is an appropriate Christian response to this manufactured social isolation?

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