“We went through the whole shebang alone. We’re islands now.” — Douglas Coupland

Deuteronomy 6:20-25
Deuteronomy 30 (esp. 15-20)

In the November 2005 issue of “National Geographic,” a headline article carries the story about the longest-living people groups in the world. The first group lives in Sardinia, Italy. The Sardinians eat pecorino cheese, drink red wine and work hard. They also live closely together for their entire lives.

Married couples live longer than singles. Pet owners live longer than animal haters. Church-goers live longer than non-church-goers, as well. So say leading independent research groups.

It might be a stretch, but the deduction from the data suggests togetherness makes for more life than isolation. At least in terms of length.

People who travel to poorer or “developing” nations make several consistent observations. One, people in these countries know poverty intimately, while poverty looms somewhere in a distant universe for us. Two, the people in economically impaired countries possess a profound joy incomprehensible to our wealthy culture. Three, that joy has some connection to the sense of community these folks share.

In the industrialized, modern, individualized West, we rarely think in terms of “us” and “we”. We do think of “me,” and we don’t cuddle up to the inconvenience of the group. We’ve got a life to live, you know?

But the poor tend to think about others and less about themselves. What good is individual achievement when it’s divorced from friends who might share in it? Why scale the ladder if you arrive at the top alone?

Jesus said, “He who loses his life shall save it.”

 Does this mean when we forget ourselves, we find something more worthwhile?

He also said those who seek to save their lives end up losing them. If Jesus is right, our approach isn’t.

We can choose to go it alone. We can imitate John Wayne’s characters, cowboys who needed no one. It sounds so romantic, like the Marlboro man, solitary to the backdrop of the setting sun. But at night, when the sun has set, the Marlboro Man has no one to tell him how cool he is, no one to share his cigarettes, and no one to keep him warm. If the indicators are correct, the Marlboro Man won’t live too long.

Meanwhile, the Sardinians will dine together on cheese and wine, living well.

What percentage of accomplishment in life has value outside of a social context?
Why avoid a group?
If you had to choose between unbelievable wealth and power or the company of a few very close friends, what would you choose and why?


© 2006