Social contact with another human being is something many of us take for granted. In America and Britain, one out of three people 65 or older are living alone. Socializing is a basic human need that some of us aren’t getting access too, and that is causing devastating effects. Research is finding that people who are lonely are more prone to physical illness and cognitive decline. Loneliness affects our white blood cell production, which makes fighting off infections much more difficult. Being lonely also affects many key bodily functions by overstimulating the body’s stress response. In fact, loneliness may now be a better indicator of an early death than obesity.
In Britain, the issue of loneliness is now becoming viewed as a serious health issue that should be given public funds and national attention. Public, private, and volunteer sectors in Britain are coming together to help spread the word about loneliness, and at the same time, researchers are biologically deepening there understanding of the issue. But in America, it is a different scenario, there is not much recognition to the average person about what loneliness does to your health.
A lack of integrity is clear in abandonment of others. Integrity does not include shallowness, which is what is present when we only focus on ourselves. Committing to a friendship or family members is also a part of having integrity, and that is also not clear if we are letting our elders rot away without social contact. It is a social injustice to not give some of our time to communicate with the lonely. In America, we need to view loneliness as a severe social injustice that is harming someone’s health. We need to value giving social contact more and view it as immoral to leave someone abandoned.