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Don't Shun Society

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`WHO needs people?'' I heard a woman say in a fit of exasperation. In fact, I've sometimes felt that way myself. So why not drop out of the tussle with society and its problems and opinions? While it's true that we sometimes do need to take time out to be alone with God, in the long run we can't shut out society and -- when you come right down to it -- we wouldn't want to. We want satisfying relationships. If relationships are disturbing, we need to improve them, not run away from them.

Most of us are alone part of the time and with people part of the time. The proportions vary from individual to individual, of course. But shunning interactions with others can be just as selfish as demanding constant companionship. You might say we can get to be too comfortable with our own company!

Because I am in a community where many people live alone, I began to see the need for balance between solitude and society in other people before I recognized it as something I needed to adjust in myself. Since I had been living alone I had come to enjoy having the freedom to do anything I pleased at my own pace. Gradually it became easier and easier to be self-centered -- to indulge myself. When I recognized what that attitude of isolation was doing to others, though, I saw that I myself needed to reach out more.

Such reaching out to humanity is essential to our own spiritual progress. Christ Jesus answered the lawyer who asked, ``Master, which is the great commandment in the law?'' by citing the commandment ``Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.'' But he didn't stop there. He went on to say, ``And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.''

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