Author Kurt Vonnegut believes that the most daring among us would "create communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured." Like any form of unhappiness or dis-ease, the pangs of loneliness can consume one's thoughts and feel larger than life itself. Loneliness, however, is a product, not of God, or good, but of evil. And as Vonnegut suggests, communities filled with acts of unselfed love—where loneliness can find no starting or resting point—would enable feelings of individual belonging and satisfaction to flourish.

It's common knowledge that loneliness makes no distinction between the companioned or solitary. There are many people who love solitude, but numerous websites and research studies focusing on loneliness suggest that many more individuals feel desolate. And advertising, movies, and TV productions do not support the lonely heart, particularly when the idea of being alone is presented as aberrant.

The National Library of Medicine alone posted 597 research studies online that discuss the negative effects of loneliness on behavior—from children to teens, pregnant women to elders, business people to caregivers. One study claimed a direct relationship between loneliness and the development of violent, antisocial behavior. Teen shooters, who often struggle with issues of self-worth and feel of little value to society, have long been tagged as loners and outsiders. These and other studies appear to accept loneliness, as if it is a fixed fact of life.

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December 12, 2005

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