Thursday, January 12, 2017

Social Isolation - Living Lesson

Living Lesson: Social Isolation
By: Christopher Wiles

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Since we are well known for our home education efforts, we get quite a few concerned comments about our children being properly “socialized.” Many who don’t know us well live in fear that we are short-changing our kids without involvement in the standard school system.  My usually response begins by asking, “Have you ever seen a socially awkward student in standard school?”  After a good pause to let them dwell on that I then ask, "Do you know me, Topher, the extrovert?  Do you know my children; how much they love people; how much they are loved?"  Next, I begin listing all the times my children interact with students of their own age and multi-generational engagements in their regular routine. Finally I follow by letting them know that good socialization for all of humanity and the malady of loneliness is important to us and to our God, no matter how we receive our education.  One of our primary means of socialization for us comes through our church interactions, something encouraged by God Himself. Can you tell I've had this conversation a few times?

From the New York Times Article “How Social Isolation Is Killing Us” comes the following information.

Since the 1980s, the percentage of American adults who say they’re lonely has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent. Loneliness is as important a risk factor for early death as obesity and smoking. Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors. Socially isolated individuals have a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, and that this effect was largest in middle age. Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormonesOne recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent. About one-third of Americans older than 65 now live alone, and half of those over 85 do. Loneliness can accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, and isolated individuals are twice as likely to die prematurely as those with more robust social interactions.

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Perhaps God knew all this isolation was debilitating when He inspired this remedy for social isolation, “(Let us) not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.(Heb 10:25) In a day of TV church, Radio church, and Podcast church, nothing can replace the benefits in my children's lives of the TRUE Church, which is the assembling and encouragement of the saints.

You might ask, "Topher, why do you turn to the church instead of teams, clubs, and social networks to aid against isolation?"  In a short nutshell, I believe in what philosopher Ravi Zacharias says in his talk, "The Incoherence of Atheism" (35mins35secs) when he states and repeats, "Ultimate loneliness is that of the soul and not of the body." We need connections to our soul to beat the social isolation of loneliness.

Let’s strive for ourselves, our children, and the sake of others to BE the Church. Make time to sing, pray, study, serve, work, cry, laugh, and learn together; not just on Sundays mornings.   We will all be glad we did.

Now, home educators, what do you think?

Living Lessons are articles written for the weekly Washington Church of Christ bulletin.  You can find more by clicking HERE or searching for "Living Lesson" in the right sidebar search.

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