Some Assembly Required: A Quick Note On Radical Loneliness

Cool Vonnegut buttons from Garbo Blues.

If you want to stop senseless violence in this world, if you want to create the paradise so many martyrs of all faiths foolishly die to achieve, if you want heaven on earth, where we stop thinking of this small, insignificant marble as the end-all be-all of existence and start acting like our shared lineage means that we are, exclusive of what our favorite book, band, or dance craze is, all one species whose only job is to get loved, make more, and try to stay alive*, then there is one simple thing you can do: make sure that the people around you feel connected, feel recognized as humans with reasons to be, because what drives any terrorist to kill another human being is never love, but loneliness, the feeling that there is no affiliation, no association, and no future on this earth with these people we share it with.

Whether it's Timothy McVeigh, whether it's Adam Lanza, whether it's the Tsarnaev brothers or whoever the latest unimaginative also-ran is, the inspiration, the root of all evil in our over-connected world is isolation and loneliness. The war we're fighting isn't against Islam, it's not right-wing militias, it's not gun-owners. We are at war with radical loneliness. When they attack, they attack symbols of human connection: busy streets, crowded cafés, churches, workplaces, schools. They are sick with loneliness first and foremost.

It's everyone's job to make everyone else feel welcome, because being born on this small, tenuously habitable globe means you have every right to be here, among people who accept your right, your need to be here, your need to be welcomed into this ideal we've invested so much time into: that no one of us can do this alone, that life is not a single-player game. So if you see someone, anyone, who seems lost in themselves, who reaches out to you or can't muster up the courage to: engage. No one is getting out of here alive anyway, and no one is doing it alone.

We're all we have. No one's coming to shepherd us to safety. We have to take care of our own. Every religion we've ever been handed down, every philosophy we've ever invented says the same. Every human on this planet belongs to humankind. Take care of each other and you take care of yourself. The paradise we meet in will be of our own construction, and it will be right here on earth. Some assembly is required.

* With apologies to Jenny Lewis