Even The Lone Ranger Didn’t Go It Alone

Written by Dr. Rex M. Rogers on . Posted in Local

lone rangerPeople sometimes think they can make it alone. But it's not so. Aristotle thought men and women were social animals. He got the first part correct. Human beings are indeed first, last, and always social.

But we're not animals. We're something different, a creation "a little lower than the angels" made "in the image of God." People who forget this sometimes end up feeling alone, or they end up going alone.

In the extreme, people who think they can go it alone end up kind of freaky weird. Think Howard Hughes, Bobby Fischer, maybe the Unabomber.

It's a free country and people can choose to withdraw from social interaction if they want. But I always wonder about it. I wonder, for example, about Doris Day who has lived for years near Pebble Beach as a virtual recluse. I don't want to judge and say her choice is "wrong," particularly for someone who earlier in life knew worldwide fame, living daily in the public eye in a manner I will never understand. But I still wonder what leads a person to pull back to the point of near isolation.

People need human interaction, certainly for emotional wellbeing but also for achievement. Sure, there are great works of art or literature that are the products of one genius. Emily Dickinson is famous for having been a recluse most of her adult life, living much of it in one room and speaking to people from behind a door. Yet she wrote highly expressive poetry, largely published after her death, and is today regarded as one of America's greatest poets. For all her literary perspicacity, though, she was clearly an unhappy and depressed person for most of her short 55 years.

Even singular artists aren't "single," that is to say truly alone, in accomplishment. They didn't spring forth fully formed and fully able to produce. They had to learn, to be nurtured, to grow and to grow up. Someone, more often many, invested in them.

God knew we needed "we." First, he created us for communion with him. Second, he created others for our companionship and community. In the beginning, one of the first things God said about his made-from-dirt penultimate (Man; Woman got to be the ultimate) creation was "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." First Adam, then Eve, then the family, and then the human race, one becomes many and generally the one seeks out the many.

Cultures vary in their attitudes toward togetherness. There's the communal or collective East and the individualistic West. And there're strengths and weaknesses in each philosophy.

In America's frontier-forged, sometimes fierce, independence we still need each other, then and now. We were not, as Thomas Hobbes famously described us, people whose lives were "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." His was a dark view to say the least, and in some sense he accurately described the lives of some in the harsh wilderness, though even here Hobbes missed more than he observed about what today we call "quality of life." But Hobbes held out hope. His remedy was "civil society" in which people would govern their passions. So in the end, he argued for a social contract, people's need of people.

Think about a few American legends, Daniel Boone, Davey Crockett, Sam Houston, Kit Carson. They all had sidekicks. Heroes like Teddy Roosevelt didn't charge up San Juan Hill alone. The doughboys, emphasis on the plural, fought side by side to "made the world safe for democracy" in WWI. And the Greatest Generation, with more than its share of heroes, didn't win WWII sending soldiers overseas in one-person platoons.

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So despite Simon and Garfunkel's pithy phrase, "I am a rock, I am an island," we're really not. Even their final poignant lyric doesn't fit human experience: "And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries." We're neither rocks nor islands. We do feel pain and we do cry.

The Beatles were closer to the truth when they sang, "I get by with a little help from my friends." I'm not sure they were thinking lofty thoughts when this line was written, but they got the principle right.

Going it alone is an enormous mistake. It's a macho misperception. It's a feminine faux pas. People only go it alone when pride, greed, or hurt displaces common sense and experience. And I'm convinced the most loner of loners don't really, not really, deep down inside want to be alone.

Even the Lone Ranger didn't go it alone. He had his courageous and faithful Native American "kemosabe" Tonto, and of course his horse and the glorious catchphrase (Not to mention the "William Tell Overture" theme song) "Hi yo, Silver, away."

One can be lonely in a crowd, I know. This is a by-product of modernity or now, postmodernity, terms scholars use to describe the past century characterized by technology, massive scale, secularism/moral relativism, mass culture, institutionalization, and complexification (These words alone are enough to make people run screaming into the woods).

People live amongst millions surrounded at all times by humanity yet with few if any meaningful relationships. In the worst cases, people lead lives of quiet desperation, to quote Henry David Thoreau. They live in relative angst and alienation. It's a sad life leaving people feeling, if not asking, "What really matters?"

If, however, you are a Christian you need never be, in fact cannot be, alone. Nor should you try to go it alone. Christians are not alone, for the Holy Spirit of God indwells us (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Scripture says, "For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord" (Romans 14:7-8). In the Lord we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

Friendship, relationship, companionship, a good marriage, fellowship, these are powerful enabling concepts. They are gifts of God. Seek such things. Nurture them. They make life livable, enjoyable, fruitful, and meaningful.

I don't want to be a rock. I don't want to be an island. I don't even want to be the Lone Ranger, though I wouldn't mind being "kemosabe"—trusted, faithful friend. I want us, we, not just me.
Author Information
Dr. Rex M. Rogers
About:
Rex M. Rogers (born 1952[1]) serves as President of SAT-7 USA, the American promotion and fundraising arm of SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry by and for the people of the Middle East and North Africa. SAT-7 SAT-7, based in Nicosia, Cyprus, supports quality, indigenous-produced programming on four channels in three languages, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.

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