Our Human Connections Matter
Contributor
Written by
Angela Martin
January 2011
Contributor
Written by
Angela Martin
January 2011

I sat next to a warm fire and my BFF, Noelle Alix, amidst a roomful of women last night at Renbrook School in West Hartford, CT to hear a distinguished panel of writers and educators discuss Jonathan Franzen's FREEDOM. I was enlightened and saddened by the talk, which cast a difficult light over the loss of family in our country. The weakening of the bonds between people, and the narcissistic focus on the individual. To one speaker's point, you can no longer find clip art on the internet of a family.

 

I gripped Noelle's wrist knowing that all I have, all I value on this earth is my family, my friendships and my connections with people. She mouthed, "Oh my gosh," in disbelief of the subject. I like to believe that individualism isn't as rampant as what is portrayed in the novel, and maybe that's Franzen's point. To show us what could be if we stop caring about each other, where we came from, the people who have come into our lives to change us for the better.

 

I'm blessed to have a forever friend, to have an evolved book club of incredible women who love each other like sisters, each of us as different as can be. Women need each other, don't we? To carry each other through the sun and the shadows. 

 

I grabbed hold of Noelle before we went our separate ways at the end of the night, knowing that I would continue to grow and change, but I would never forget. I would always be a friend, a mother, a wife first. And somewhere at the end of the laundry list of nouns, a person.

 

Does individualism worry you?

 

xo

Angela

 

http://justcate.com/

http://blog.justcate.com/

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Comments
  • Anjuelle Floyd

    Of Charity, The Land of Social Apartheid and Margaret Mead...

    As a wife of 28.5 years, mother of 3 (ages 23 yrs., 18yrs. and 11yrs.), an author, licensed psychotherapist and abstract painter, I am very aware of the problem Americans lacking the ability to hold and maintain enduring relationships.

    The present economic crisis endures and has been made worse because so many who have lost their jobs have no one to lean upon an assist them in getting through this difficult period.

    Americans unlike any other culture of the Western world change intimate partners more frequently.

    ...

    (continued below)

  • Anjuelle Floyd

    Of Charity, The Land of Social Apartheid and Margaret Mead...

    (continued from above)

    ...While waiting to undergo my yearly breast exam this morning I read, Who Needs Marriage?: A Changing Institution, listed in the November 29th, 2010 issue of Time Magazine.  One researcher quoted in the article described the various ways wherein the institutions of marriage and most particularly family in America are threatened and under siege.

    He writes that he appreciated the enormity of the problem when realizing that statistics of the data he had gathered indicated that a child in America living with two married parents had a greater possibility of losing her or his family to divorce than a child living in Sweden living with two parents who were not married but who instead cohabitated, as do many, if not most, Europeans.

     

    The thesis of Who Needs Marriage?: A Changing Institution is that marriage in America has now become something that only those at the top of the socioeconomic scale enter, and remain in. Women and men who achieve a college level education or higher marry in greater numbers and remain married more than their counterparts who do not achieve a college education or higher.

    And married individuals hold as much as a 121% higher level of savings than their unmarried counterparts. This number does not differ or vary according to gender.

     

    Why do I mention marriage in a discussion about human connections? ...

  • Anjuelle Floyd

    Whether a person is married, and how they have or have not maintained the state of their marriage provide important indicators of one's ability to hold dear and value human connections with those not simply within the sphere of their immediate family, but also the quality of interactions, or whether they are able to establish and maintain connections with persons outside their family of origin.


    The old adage that, "Charity begins at home," remains quite relevant.

    The activities in which we participate, and the experiences we share with those in our home and grow to value set the stage for what we aspire to re-create with those we meet in life away from our families of origin.

     

    Children who have close and loving relationships with their parents wherein they feel valued and respected seek not only to remain connected with these parents when the children themselves reach adulthood.

    They also seek to recreate deep and committed and substantive relationships not simply with a marriage partner, but also with close friends that they value and who likewise value them.


    I see this with my own children, and their friends who belong to tight-knit families.

    Sadly I also see what happens when children with whom our children are acquainted lack a family that values human connection.

    Children of the latter circumstances falter not only emotionally in their personal lives.


    The difficulties they experience at home seep into their professional lives leaving these young adults muddling along unable to create and maintain relationships in the work arena and become independent and self-sufficient.

     

    Americans are truly suffering. We live in a land of what I term an emotional apartheid, where social isolation and abandonment provide the major ingredients in the flavor of our interactions.

  • Anjuelle Floyd

    The author of the Time Magazine article on the state of marriage in American quite readily admitted that researchers are stumped as to whether suffering economics and poverty contribute to the uneducated delaying and/or avoiding marriage or whether the lack of marriage in the lives of the under-educated contributes to, if not serves as the root of their poverty.

     

    Pondering this conundrum, I am reminded of what the anthropologist, Margaret Mead said, "Everyone wants to know that if they do not show up at the end of the day someone is wondering where they are, holds concern for them and their safety."

     

    Sadly, in America, all too many times when, and if a person does not arrive home at the end of the day, there awaits no one to greet them. The have no connections with individuals who would worry about their safety in their absence.

    All too often people who know the individual hope she or he do not return to work the next day for in their absence they, their colleagues and co-workers now have a space which they can seek to fill in their efforts to advance their professional lives.

     

    As a author of Women's Fiction that primarily explores the nature of interactions between wives and husbands committed to their marriage and each other, I chose to self-publish my second book so that I could not only take my time in crafting it, but could also remain available to my family and close friends with whom I have and maintain relationships that support me as a person and a writer.

    Writing for me is not so much about achieving fame, rather sharing my view of the world, one that values human interaction and engagement and where human relationships form the very core of how we derive meaning and purpose in our living.

  • Anjuelle Floyd

    Enormous success as an author would mean nothing to me if I did not have my family, my husband and children and friends to share it with.


    Connections with family and friends form the core of why and about what I write.

    It is imperative to me that I live out the concepts demonstrated by the characters in my novels and short stories.

     

    Thanks so much for proposing for discussion, this question--a topic that lies quite close to my heart. 

     

    anjuelle floyd
    www.anjuellefloyd.com
     Imagination is the key to freedom.
    The artist's job is to cultivate and nurture her or his imagination, and that of others.   

  • Elizabeth Towns

    I have not read Franzen's book yet, but I will. Individualism does concern me because it also promotes the concepts of isolation, self gratification, and entitlement. I cannot imagine what good can come of a world full of independently separate people. There is a song that says "I need you to survive." To me those words mean both that it is integral to my existence that you survive, and that I have need of your life acheivements, your specific contribution, even your failures, to survive in this world.

     

    We each have a responsibility to foster an environment where it is not wrong to need another person, and where it is okay to trust each other in love. Unfortunately, there are many experiences that don't support trust and love between multiple members of society, simultaneously. It worries me a great deal.