In a speech to a college graduating class, writer Kurt Vonnegut once said, “You are not enough people,” postulating on why there are so many divorced couples. He argued that once upon a time, people got married, extending their immediate family. That was a good thing. The support system was built into the household, and partners didn’t rely just on each other for every emotional burden.
One of his arguments was that all relationships need a collective environment. Relationships weren’t meant to be in isolation, but are stronger with others pitching in. We try to fill those voids where community should be, with career and ambitions.
The solution may be found in another commencement speech when he said, “The most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
A story I wrote in this week’s print edition of the Weekly, about a group of sharp-witted women who knit together on Mondays, made me think about Vonnegut’s speeches. The pandemic forced them apart for months, but they have found a renewed sense of hope and community.
And beyond their friendships with each other, they knit pieces that will one day clothe someone else, a stranger, someone who isn’t in the room—yet.