Are you lonely?

I am writing this in Tokyo. It is a city made for eyes, particularly at night, when the darkness is punctuated by light from high rise office buildings where the industrious Japanese are still at work. To look at Tokyo is to see a future full of possibilities born out of the historical capacity of citizens to get along with one another and subsume their differences by and large under the overarching national need to sustain the economy. That is very much like the Singapore way.
   Yet, underneath the bustling camaraderie of economic life lies the subterranean reality of loneliness. Unlike agrarian life in face-to-face societies where people had the time to stop and share the common miseries of their passing days, urban life is imbued with anonymity and its sibling, loneliness. Even happiness cannot be shared, because there is no one to share it with. Nuclear families themselves are split apart by the pressure of work on spouses and the rigours of education for children. People live in silos. They come together only when they have to, for example, during furious sex, which is a very poor alternative to steady love. I generalise, of course, but every generalisation is based on a core of at least anecdotal or observed truth.
   I admire the Japanese, and wish them well, but I wish that they could find some way to return to the sturdy simplicities that have served them so well through the spartan centuries. Loneliness breeds stoicism, which may be good in itself but is no guarantor of a happy society.

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