Even if you aren’t a vet returning from service, there is a powerful idea here that if we serve and live in an other-regarding way, in a way in which we are not the center of our own universe, we can truly deal with feelings of lonliness in a healthy way way before they conquer us.
“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” – Viktor Frankl
One aspect of suicidal desire comes from the feeling of loneliness and isolation resulting from a lack communal belonging. Here I demonstrate how the concept of ‘the sacred’ helps us understand communal belonging, particularly in relation to the meaning of service. I apply this concept to veterans in transition to civilian life, showing how the loss of meaning and purpose can result from losing a tight-knit community centered on the sacred ideal of service.
In the book Suicide, Durkheim describes the function of the ‘sacred’ as an ideal that binds individuals together into moral communities; he states, “it’s object is to raise man above himself and to make him lead a life superior to that which he would lead, if he followed only his own individual whims.”
Moral communities provide individuals with…
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