It is in the shelter of each other that people live.
Proverbs offer us ideals toward which to live, and often imply the things that we struggle with toward that ideal. So this proverb. Ideally, in the best world, human beings would live lives that benefit from the shelter that we offer to each other. This shelter would certainly be about the basics of housing, but it would also, and perhaps more so, include the emotional and psychological shelter of belonging.
Recently, I was talking with a former student about this very strong and powerful need to belong that I experience through my own life, which I see my students struggling with. We all want to belong. We all need to belong. We all yearn for this kind of shelter that we can provide for each other by opening the circles we travel in and inviting the one standing alone to join. He said to me: Oh, you mean FOMO. Thinking that I had misunderstood, I had him say two more times. Finally, he explained the acronym: The Fear Of Missing Out. “Ask any of your students–they all know FOMO.”
I’m sure they do know FOMO, both the acronym and the reality that it points to. Introverts and extroverts and any sort of mix of the two one might be, we human beings want and need, desire and search for belonging. This draw toward belonging, toward the shelter which we can provide for each other can manifest itself through any of the seven elements of culture: family and social organizations for sure. But we may seek and find belonging through the practice of customs, the use of languages that we learn, through the practices of religion, through the joy of art and literature, by engaging ourselves in government and politics, and as the current stock market decline is showing us–even through our engagements with the economy.
The ideal is that human beings provide shelter for each other, and that is how we live. The day to day struggle occurs when we find ourselves (and others certainly find themselves) feeling and being alone, unsheltered and afraid. Both are true. We live best in the shelter of each other. We suffer most living outside of the shelter we can provide each other. Seeing this, perhaps, extends the notion of building habitats for humanity. Let’s build some shelters today.