In the valley noted for its echoes, silence talks. Our northern kin has been living in the shadows of the military and a political power struggle that will end in bloodshed regardless of who wins. Kashmiris have become inmates in their own homes, with the majestic peaks serving as a jail. Who are they pleading with? How can they get their message across?
While the mainland watches the programme, they protest, fight, and plead for their rights and freedom. They were alone, as were the Jews, the Blacks, and that one child in the diner with his parents on their phones, despite a population of 1.25 crore.
Like the Black Death in Europe, stories of social alienation abound in our history textbooks. Even so, we can feel its claws tightening around our necks now more than ever. We have a lot of connections. We have the whole planet at our fingertips. Calls and texts have relieved the sweet doves of their duties, allowing us to converse with strangers as well as friends.
In our pockets, we bear a piece of our loved ones. We are surrounded by more than 7 billion people and 8.7 million other animals. And yet, as we sit on our sofa, pizza in one hand and phone in the other, the knowledge slowly sinks in that we are both very lonely, like a slow poison.
In the United States alone, over 60 million people reported feeling lonely (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2018). Globally, youth are becoming increasingly withdrawn and absent-minded, preferring to curl up in a comfortable corner rather than face the harsh realities of life. The Loneliness Epidemic is one of many aspects that have characterised this period. People are becoming more agitated, despondent, inactive, and withdrawn. We rest isolated, unaffected, and unmoved in the midst of the whirlwind of likes and followers.
If the Loneliness Epidemic is not handled, we will be hollowed out. It drives people insane and turns them into savages. It encourages them to engage in drug abuse. As they sit trying to fit bits of garbage into the gaping hole inside, one loses all sense of reason. Loneliness is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or a black pit, swallowing all life and leaving nothing but death and decay behind. It’s a shame the internet doesn’t bind people’s souls.
Wuhan was put on lockdown when the Coronavirus struck, with all residents being rounded up and placed in isolation or quarantine. China constructed a wall around itself when the Mongols threatened, and an alienation zone when the Chernobyl disaster occurred. Our reaction to the possibility of a global war was to create memes. We conveniently chuckled and japed instead of recognising the ramifications of such a brutal global phenomenon, refusing to be scared into a frenzy. When wars arrive at our doorstep, we slam the door in their faces. But what about the conflict that exists inside you? It is futile to demand caution from those who have never known peace.
Ironically, Mahatma Gandhi, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, William Shakespeare, Vincent Van Gogh, and Albert Einstein all came from this species. Guess what, visionaries, poets, freedom fighters, scientists, painters, and one teen girl who turned the world upside down? They began on their own. They began in seclusion. They were triumphant in the internal war that was raging. The world was awestruck, inspired, and speechless as a result of their valiant struggle. They were given meaning by a little trust in themselves and a greater love for others. We are, in reality, lonely. We’ve always been that way. And we’ve been battling it for a long time. Sure, it’s a sorry state of affairs for our species. But we’re fighting back, and we’re stronger than ever. We’re in this together. Despite stumbling and fumbling, we persist.