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A Lonely Nation

Has the notion of the ‘American way’ promoted isolation across history?

At the end of “The Searchers,” one of John Wayne’s most renowned Westerns, a kidnapped girl has been rescued and a family reunited. As the closing music swells, Wayne’s character looks around at his kin — people who have other people to lean on — and then walks off toward the dusty West Texas horizon, lonesome and alone.

It’s a classic example of a fundamental American tall tale — that of a nation built on notions of individualism, a male-dominated story filled with loners and “rugged individualists” who suck it up, do what needs to be done, ride off into the sunset and like it that way.

In reality, loneliness in America can be deadly. This month, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared it an American epidemic, saying that it takes as deadly a toll as smoking upon the population of the United States. “Millions of people in America are struggling in the shadows,” he said, “and that’s not right.”

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Associated Press.

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