There are trends in our society that foster isolation. The political polarization we find around us reinforces isolation. The fact that average household size in the U.S. has declined in the past decade, leading to a 10 percent increase in people living alone, increases isolation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over a quarter of the U.S. population — and 28 percent of older adults — now live by themselves.
Loneliness impacts physical and mental health. As a force influencing our health and well-being, the quality of our social network is equal to, if not exceeds, the efforts of our medical system.
The quality of our associations with others is an important as merely being with others. There are few institutions that have a primary goal of fostering a high degree of connectedness and social support for individuals. The UU church is one of them.
This Sunday – a day when we will be welcoming new members – I will discuss the impact of loneliness in our society, the factors that strengthen loneliness, the importance of the church’s social impact, and why it is important to expand the membership of the church.