The recent statement from the Pan-Orthodox council addresses the growing isolation of individuals in this modern techno-culture removed from consciousness of God. Here is an example of that isolation and the answer to it.
Archpriest Symeon Elias
June 27, 2014
A young friend I'll name "Tom," expressed sympathy for my recent loss (my friend DRJ, who will be laid to rest in Georgia tomorrow, Saturday June 28th.) Tom said to me, "I'm certainly sorry to hear about your friend, the grief you're suffering from it. That stuff tears me up, so in part I'm glad to not know as many people as you do."
That was an honest statement coming from Tom, but it yanked my heart sideways as I realize how it represents the growing isolation of people in our culture, exacerbated by social media, most usually acquainted with hundreds or thousands of people and close to none, or maybe a very few. That "truncation" of life in personal isolation is more pronounced in young people as their relationships have become more and more artificial, physically based on hedonistic lies, where "friends are for fun" where no one is truly close and truly trusted, where in fact those with depth of heart worthy of trust are fewer and fewer.
I answered Tom saying:
"Thank you for you kind words Tom. Don will be laid to rest in Georgia on Saturday. I would have loved to be there for the Georgia gathering of friends and family, but health does not allow.
"It is interesting that you say, "in part I'm glad to not know as many people as you do." Tom, you are saying, "I would rather be isolated than stand the risk of suffering grief of loss." That symbolizes the destructive self-love that I mentioned in my last entry, what you presently cannot understand. That selfish self-love cuts you off from too much of real life. For instance the loss of my friend Don, is not a tragedy. It was a series of many lessons as he faced adversity with such faith and calm. That suffering was balanced with the 54 years of friendship, all the stories, adventures and life we were able to share. If one does not open ones heart, for fear of loss, that is living in a selfish and sick self-love.
What is the lesson of Jesus, Tom? He is the opposite of that kind of selfish-love, open to anyone who will open to him. When we operate in the Holy Spirit of Christ, how does that manifest except to make us open to any person who opens to us - the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly - and with love without discrimination. Understanding this is what allows us to focus outside of our own suffering, to open to life and people. Saint Paul said, "15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Romans 12:15-18 (King James Version)