Thursday, 19 July 2018


An interesting understanding of loneliness, something that did not occur to me earlier...
By ‘loneliness’ Arendt did not simply mean solitude, in which – as she points out – you have your own self for consolation. In the solitude of our minds, we engage in an internal dialogue. We speak in two voices. It is this internal dialogue that allows us to achieve independent and creative thought – to weigh strong competing imperatives against each other. You engage in it every time you grapple with a moral dilemma. Every clash of interests, every instance of human difference evokes it. True thought, for Arendt, involved the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. True loneliness, therefore, was the opposite. It involved the abrupt halting of this internal dialogue: ‘the loss of one’s own self’ – or rather, the loss of trust in oneself as the partner of one’s thoughts. True loneliness means being cut off from a sense of human commonality and therefore conscience. You are left adrift in a sea of insecurity and ambiguity, with no way of navigating the storms. (Aeon)
And this loneliness is the common thread running through all extremists and belonging (to the extremist or terrorist group) gives them a sense of identity, a place where they no more feel lonely but valued.  So it is not that only those who are physically alone or isolated that are prone to loneliness, even those living amidst people and even those who are actively involved in the lives of others also can be victims of this loss of trust in oneself.  The key as I see it is communication and empathy.  

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