by Kenneth Justice
~ Last week I was sitting in a coffee shop alongside the ocean. It was 80 degrees outside and the palm trees were glistening in the morning sun, I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting to enjoy my morning coffee. The coffee shop was quiet and the barista struck up a conversation with me. Married, with two children, she told me that she was moving to Albany, New York next month. After 21 years of palm trees, warm weather, the ocean, and white sand beaches she was sick of it, “I can’t stand it here!” she said
It was such an odd conversation. When I’m in cold weather climate areas, all that most of the people tell me is that they wish they could live on some beach in the tropics. Yet here was a late twenty-something young woman who didn’t like living alongside the beach.
We all talk about the grass-is-greener concept, and this young woman definitely believed the grass is greener in Albany,
“You do realize that Albany, New York is going to be freezing in the winter?” I asked
“So I’ll wear a hat and mittens” she said
The more we talked the more I realized what the real issue in her life was; community.
“I simply don’t have a lot of friends and family here” she said, “I feel lonely a lot of the time. I have kids and I’m married, but they don’t provide enough community for me; I need more mental stimulation” she said
The United States has become a lonely place. Perhaps I sound like a broken record writing about loneliness and depression so much, yet no matter how hard I try, I can’t get away from the subject; everywhere I go people talk to me about feeling lonely.
I have a suspicion that the television is a major culprit in people feeling lonely. A hundred years ago before the radio and television, people were forced to talk to each other when they wanted mental stimulation. Now all you have to do is turn on your TV or radio and you can entirely bypass the art of conversing with your fellow humans.
Perhaps I’m a nut. But I’m trying to make philosophy cool again. Phil-os-o-cool I guess you could say is my life mission in many ways. Philosophy is a way of engaging ourselves in critical thinking. In looking at issues and concepts from multiple angles. Most of us were taught to accept things as they are; and to never question anything. The art of philosophy teaches us to question EVERYTHING. Nothing is so sacred that it can’t be questioned.
After multiple years of working in human service, and now after two years of talking to thousands of people in coffee shops, it’s become abundantly clear to me that the way we do life here in the Western World isn’t the best philosophy for creating happy, joyful, and connected humans. Perhaps it’s time we change things…..
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
Categories: Culture & Society