How To Cure Loneliness
Humans have always felt it. But maybe not quite like this.
54% of us feels that no one knows us
56% of us feel like the people around us are not with us
2 out of 5 of us feel like we lack companionship, that our relationships aren’t meaningful, and that we are isolated from others
These are stats from a study done by health insurer Cigna. In 2018 the UK became the first country to appoint a minister of loneliness. More and more elderly Japanese (28% of their population) are choosing to live alone. Of the men, 15% of them speak to one or fewer people every two weeks. Modern society has an epidemic on our hands.
Years before these studies were released, the late literary giant Kurt Vonnegut left us with food for thought.
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities where the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” — Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut hit the nail on the head, down to the word daring. Modern communities are inherently unstable. Industrialization and the revolution of expedited mobility have deteriorated out sense of village, tribe and neighborhood.
The choice to put down roots is slipping away from us. But some must commit to their place and bind together to provide a community for themselves and the more transitory people ebbing and flowing from a county.
That’s what my brother, Producing Artistic Director of New City Players has done in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. South Florida is one of many locations across the world susceptible to the climate crisis of rising seas. But in the decades that remain, New City Players is committed to nurturing a stable community.
In his speech, Tim makes the case:
“What better place to address loneliness, this disease of loneliness, than the theater? It’s set up to do it. It’s a venue where you gather people and you open up their hearts and you ask them to think critically. And you encourage them to engage in conversation and community. It is the perfect antidote for this disease that we are facing.”
New City Players realizes that a few plays per year cannot sustain a tribe. They put on monthly events like City Speaks, where a person tells a true story — speaking truth to power through humor or trauma — and the audience must practice active listening and civility. The Green Room provides a regular space for theatre enthusiasts, the NCP Lab provides a place for artists to circulate feedback, and the Forum provides a place for experts and audience to discuss issues pertinent to the cultural moment (and human condition). Mix in staged readings and a slew of other events, and an example of stable community is born.
Whether it’s a fictional play, an actual personal event, or civil discourse, communication and storytelling is at play. In these spaces, human proximity and engagement are impossible to escape. And where there’s story, there is the possibility of transforming the hardest of hearts.
Art and communication enrich our lives, and when combined on a consistent basis, stable community emerges.
Andrew Paul Davis
Co-Founder of One County Film Company
Find out more about New City Players at: newcityplayers.org