Thursday, February 19, 2009

a life of isolation

We interrupt your regular scheduled programming with a post independent of the "25 things" series.

I started 
Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman this past week.   I'm not reading it in the conventional sense, I am actually listening to it via the ipod.  I've not really used an audio book before, I usually prefer to hold the book in hand, and turn the page; however I've started going to the gym, have the gym membership and everything, and I wanted something besides music or aimless TV to listen to while I worked out.  There are a number of books, primarily non fiction that I've been wanting to read and Hot, Flat, and Crowded is one of them.

So, I began the journey into the book this past week and tonight I was reminded of what I had read.  Which (not supposed to start sentences with "which" are you?) as an aside surprised me because while I was listening to the book I would find my mind wandering, and all of a sudden I would realize 'ummm, not too sure what he is on about, suppose I had better listen in again.' 

Continuing...Friedman begins his book with the story of the American Consulate in
Turkey.  It was built after the 9/11 attacks, and is an impenetrable fortress, the tale goes than not even birds are permitted to fly in the air space.  While the numerous safety precautions prove to be effective, (the British Consulate is bombed killing some, the American Consulate wasn't touched - as the story goes, the terrorists knew they would be unsuccessful), it is illustrative of what America has become -- an impenetrable fortress - something that lets no one in and no one out. From this story Friedman goes on to talk about how from fear America has isolated herself from the world.  America is no longer a bridge, it is no longer a country open to new ideas or new cultures, but it has become a place of isolation driven by fear.  Thomas Friedman makes an interesting point when he speaks of how the internet came to be.  It was a reaction to the Russian Sputnik movement.  Following this event, America realized the need for a universal network, and boom the creation of the internet (I'm paraphrasing and oversimplifying massively here) came to be.  In the same way America has reacted to the horrors of 9/11 in a way that the repercussions are not yet fully known.  America is losing the appeal of being the land of the free.

The reason this came to mind tonight was that I found myself in a similar situation to
America.  I went to a Special Needs seminar taught by friend and hosted by my home church.  As the seminar finished, I stood around in the group chatting.  Or rather listening in to the chat.  In doing so I realized just how isolated I had become, have been in the past, and perhaps struggle to a degree with still.  When we (my parents, brothers, and I) first moved to American in 1995 I was not at all pleased, and from that point on my actions reflected the choice I made in how I reacted to the move.  Over time I isolated myself from the outside world.  I was content to be just at home, with my books, my family close at hand.  I would venture out yearly, create friendships, forge relationships, but ultimately remain isolated.  I had allowed the fear of being left vulnerable to cut me off.  In the times that I was a part of a community, inevitably an attack would occur, a near brutal one in 2004, one of which I still carry the scars to prove that I lived through it.  And again I isolated myself, and allowed fear to dictate the course of my life.  Through God's grace I embraced his promise of restoration (Joel 2) and began to live fully again (a story for another day). 

Standing with the other ladies tonight I realized how easy it is for me to default to isolation.  It is no longer complete isolation because of the 6'6" man by my side, but it is a different type of isolation.  This time it isn't so much by choice, but from my current lifestyle, although I do find myself leaning towards a life of isolation rather than inclusion.  The scary thing is that things like Facebook and the blogging give the illusion of living connected, but really they foster isolation.

Yet despite the many means of communication it isn't too difficult to be cut off from those around you, to be at work, to be home, and neither see nor hear from those you hold dear for days at a time.  I know I have a tendency to revert to isolation mode in life, and I know that when I do my life lacks the richness and abundance I was called to live in.  Knowing this about myself, I know that if America continues her trend of isolation born and breed out of fear, that they too will fail to "live" a full and abundant life, and again I know from personal experience this is no way to live life.

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