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In Society

Loneliness, a Modern Epidemic

The U.K. has an official minister for loneliness.

The appointment, the first of its kind in the world, was introduced last year in response to an alarming study revealing that over 9 million adults in the U.K. feel “often or always lonely,” according to a 2017 report published by Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.

Recent statistics revealed that about 200,000 British citizens tend not to communicate with friends or relatives even once per month, on average. Doctors also said they frequently encounter multiple patients a day whose primary concern is isolation.

In an article published in 2017 by the Harvard Business Review, former United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy wrote that loneliness and weak social connections are associated “with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression and anxiety.”

From the perspective of Nichiren Buddhism, SGI President Ikeda addresses the issue of loneliness, saying: “We have chosen, in accord with our vow as bodhisattvas, to be born into the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law with all sorts of destinies, or karma—illness, financial hardship, family discord, loneliness, low self-esteem and the list goes on—to help guide others to enlightenment. But by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, striving in our Buddhist practice for ourselves and others, and dedicating our lives to kosen-rufu, our vibrant life force as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and the expansive life state of Buddhahood well forth within us” (March 2019 Living Buddhism, p. 16).

The SGI-USA’s current leadership focus—to center their activities on home visits and personal encouragement—is perhaps the antidote to this modern epidemic.

A New Generation of Youth Based on a Vow