This 20-minute video contains an interesting discussion about the problems of loneliness, consumerism, and depression in our modern world. It covers ground that the contributors and readers of AATW have discussed before in both posts and comments.
The discussion makes a number of suggestions about steps people can take to combat these problems in our societies, ostensibly supported by empirical studies. One should note a few things, however.
- The discussion is not Christian. It does not deal with the deeper angst the soul feels when confronted with eternity and judgment before the throne of a righteous God.
- Certain steps may not be available to everyone at all times. Johann Hari acknowledges that if one is living in actual poverty, then one is unlikely to be contented, because one’s basic needs are not being met.
- The problems are discussed in the context of our rapidly-changing, technologically-dependent world. But society has always faced issues of loneliness, social division, and isolation.
- While a certain level of contentment may be achievable, it is folly to think that one can be truly happy and content all of the time before the resurrection of the dead. There is injustice and malevolence in this world, and one should not be happy about that.
Christianity points us in the direction of the Answer to all our problems: the Lord Jesus Christ, who created and sustains us and will judge us. He is coming to renew the world, and by His Spirit, we can be renewed ourselves, “born again”, as Jesus says in John’s Gospel and Bosco so fondly reminds us.
Church provides us with community in a world of isolation. But Church is made up of fallen human beings on the road of sanctification and transformation. Sometimes – oftentimes, if we are honest – we fail not only God, but each other. The Bible teaches us that believers are brothers and sisters in Christ, that we should love one another as Christ loved us, and that he who hates his brother cannot love God (see John’s epistles).
The above is not written to scold or encourage – my own failings, especially in the furore surrounding Brexit, limit my objectivity here. Rather, I write to remind us to be realistic about unhappiness in this world, and to call us to preserve and strengthen what bonds of Christian friendship and fellowship we have – online and in the flesh, as it were.