The life we have is so far from the life we truly want, and it doesn’t take us long to find someone to blame. In order for our longings to be filled, we need the cooperation of others. I long for a loving embrace and a kind word when I get home. I long for my boys to listen attentively when I talk about important life lessons. I want my work to be appreciated. I want my friends to be there for me in hard times. “No man is an island,” wrote John Donne, and he could have been speaking of desire. We need others—it’s part of our design. Very few of our desires are self-fulfilling; all our deepest longings require others to come through for us. Inevitably, someone stands in the way.
At its best, the world is indifferent to my desires. The air traffic controllers aren’t the least affected when I’ve been traveling for a week and the flight they’ve chosen to cancel is my last chance to get home to my family. So long as it doesn’t affect them, they couldn’t care less. We suffer the violation of indifference on a daily basis, from friends, from family, from complete strangers. We think we’ve grown to accept it as part of life, but the effect is building inside us. We weren’t made to be ignored. And though we try to pretend it doesn’t really matter, the collective effect of living in a world apathetic to our existence is doing damage to our souls. Events such as bad traffic or delayed flights are merely the occasions for our true desperation to come out. As our desires come into direct conflict with the desires of another person, things get downright hostile.