So I am ridiculously touched when my daughter, now a beautiful cool twenty-one-year old, actually asks me out for coffee. She even picks the small, intimate, coffee shop just down the road, where we can, as she puts it, "have a real conversation."
I feel smug knowing that in the lingo of the much-younger-than-I-ever-was folks, that last is short for "conversation." All right. The coffee is perfect, the little cafe cheerful, and the frothy lemon cake delicious.
Once the small talk is over, I focus my eyes on the patterns to the foam of my latte, and I confide in her about a small victory in my work life about which I feel ridiculously proud. That is when the strange sense that I am speaking into a vacuum hits me. I look in her hand.
She is texting one of her friends, and I am talking to myself!
I straighten my spine, mentally put on my red-and-blue superhero suit, and in the interest of human connection on planet Earth, I roar, "It is me or the tiny screen sweetie. Choose. I won't talk to you when you are not here."
Relationships matter on a grand scale to us as human beings. The ways we tune in to and engage with others sculpt the very society we live in.
Secure connection with loved ones helps us be open, responsive, and flexible, and that, in turn, makes us inclined to perceive the world as kinder, safer, and more malleable. It gives us the capacity to look outward, to see the broader universe, and take a more active role in it. Positive relationships make us more apt to be community builders---creative workers, good leaders, and caring citizens.
Yet increasingly, we are not here for each other. Ironically, just as we finally crack the code of love, we seem to be doggedly building a world where such bonds are less valued and harder to make and maintain. As individuals, we are ever more cut off from each other in a fast paced and socially fragmented world.
The hope for homo sapiens is to "know itself for what it is." With such knowledge we can build a society that fits with and compliments our most human, most humane, nature.
As Aristotle said, "What a society honors will be cultivated." It is time for us to understand, honor, and cultivate the deepest relational elements in our nature. We must build on the social capital that is at the heart of any civilization that merits the name.
Love Sense ~ Sue Johnson