When it comes to numerous workplaces, the degree of competition and individualism that pervades them makes it extremely difficult to develop genuine and lasting friendships. Considering that the average human being spends most of his adult life at work, it is quite sad to look back at the amount of time spent with other people and to still be unable to count many friends among that crowd.
Furthermore, it seems that an increasingly larger number of people are dedicating more time than ever before to studying after work in order to add more marketable skills to their CVs. Of course, if one spends a minimum of 8 hours at work and then an extra 2 hours attending some course or studying at home, there is not much time left to be with family and/or friends. For those people who do not have family or friends, the amount of time eaten up by work and study makes it fairly difficult to focus on building new relationships.
Some individuals might argue that communications technology has made it much easier for people to make friends. I would say that such technology has definitely made it easier to connect with many people all over the world, but the technology itself cannot replace the will to spend time and to share various experiences with other human beings. Taking Facebook as an example, it is possible to have over a thousand individuals tagged as "friends", but how many of those people would really qualify as true friends? How many of them know what you like to eat and drink when you go out? How many of them know what type of music you enjoy listening to? How many of them know what dreams you have for the future? How many of them would rush to visit you in hospital if you ended up there following major surgery?
Although various social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow people to share many of their thoughts throughout the day, a status update is often less than the tip of an iceberg in terms of trying to get to know a person. If I say that I am feeling tired on Facebook, this does not shed any light on some of my worst fears.
Whilst many people out there might be aware of which book we are currently reading or which movie we have just watched, this does not mean that all those individuals are committed to preserving a genuine friendship with us. Thus, when some people ask themselves "how many true friends do I really have?", they might feel a strong kick in the stomach as they find it hard to count the number of people who would provide some material and/or psychological help in times of need. When this happens, it is quite inevitable for several individuals to feel very lonely.
Loneliness. The social networking sites are great at trying to disguise this phenomenon. Loneliness is, however, very real and its effects should not be underestimated. Sadly, thousands of Euros/Dollars are spent every week on countless substances such as alcohol in an attempt to drown the pain that often accompanies loneliness.
There are many people who try to combat or to prevent loneliness by joining a religious organisation. This might have worked in the past, when several individuals were scared of questioning certain beliefs, but scientific thinking has become so strong these days that it is extremely difficult for many people to do or to believe something simply because it was written in a book many centuries ago. Granted, there are many positive things associated with the teachings of Jesus, but most religious organisations will not stop at those teachings; they will often also require their members to do certain things or to avoid countless behaviours which were never discussed by Jesus!
Another big problem that I see with most religious organisations is that they are way too judgemental. Many of them appear to be extremely eager to list the types of people that will never go to Heaven. A good number of them also use Hell in order to threaten people to believe; if you do not believe what I am telling you, you will spend eternity suffering in Hell! Isn't that horrible??? In a world where so many secular organisations are now talking about rehabilitation and about giving a wrong-doer another chance, the concept of eternal damnation looks totally absurd to me.
The main question that I would like to ask is this: if various religious organisations allow their members to live together, why can't there be secular ones that allow their members to do the same thing? Imagine how nice it would be to have socialist communes whereby the individuals living together share the same secular ideals and do not need to spend hours praying or reciting the rosary or memorising parts of the Old Testament! The people living together in this way would all contribute a share of their income to cover the commune's monthly expenses. Furthermore, if one of the commune's members falls ill or ends up unemployed, he/she would receive all the care and help that true socialists should give to those in need. The motto of these communes could be "All for one, one for all!"
The commune could consist of a block of apartments or a large house with many spacious rooms. All the members would be subject to a set of rules, but these rules would be motivated by the safeguarding of the community's welfare; they would not be based on something that must be believed simply because it was written by some "prophet" who lived many centuries ago!
So, could anyone tell me when the first socialist commune is going to be set up in Malta???