Almost very other ‘blogger I have read who deals with the topics of euthanasia and assisted suicide has an article or reflection on isolation. Ironic, isn’t it, that isolation is universally sensed, a factor uniting us, our understanding of which should make us stronger?
The sense of “Being One” ebbs, flows, develops through time and space. Sometimes it is a joy, comfort or necessity, at others a painful experience accentuated by disability.
Loneliness, to me, is that sense of by oneself when one actually needs or craves company, in order to share some trouble or other. It can also be the result of being excluded from other’s joy.
“Isolation” derives from a Latin word for an island, so this connotes a spacial condition. A lack of inexpensive, accessible transport might, might, for example prevent or discourage people with disabilities from reaching out to the communities to which they should rightfully belong and thus we are set apart from the rest. Misguided attempts to be helpful by placing shops, doctors and other necessities about us in too-easy reach or to seek after convenience, could lead to people with disabilities living so close to facilities and services that we never need to branch out and discover others in communities.
Isolation can also simply be the result of lacking the same types of experiences one’s peers have had, leading to a lack of connectedness with them, an inability to relate meaningfully to others.
Solitude, however, is a different situation. This is the type of “being one” that is purposely sought after in order to recollect one’s thoughts, rest or perhaps recover from being overwhelmed by the clamour of others’ needs or opinions. Seeking solitude may be a necessary to acknowledge one’s emotional or psychological status, celebrate or mourn that, and gain strength to carry on.
How much does our society genuinely appreciate – that is, recognise and increase the value of – each person’s uniqueness? Their attributes, talents, gifts and life experiences? Perhaps a distorted, commercialised valuation of these contributes to the radical individualism of consumerist society, constantly being marketed to, with each member needing to assert his or her difference from others in order to forge ahead.
When a person is “one” in such a society, he or becomes very vulnerable not only to exclusion, but also elimination, as people may be more and more defined as such by their ability to get ahead and conform to stereotypes of what a person “ought to be”, not by the unique qualities which could, given encouragement, complement others’.