Ourense, the city at the banks of the river Miño in northwestern Spain, is among the thirty provinces in Europe with the most elderly population. And I can’t stop thinking about the picture of the devastating loneliness that will spread all over Galicia in the not-too-distant future. This is a picture that we already see on a daily basis in all urban and rural bus stops, in parks, in all waiting rooms, in hospitals.
The idea of having a Minister of Loneliness appointed by the government of the United Kingdom is directly linked to the influence of the Member of Parliament murdered in 2016, Jo Cox. In fact, the Commission on Loneliness, which bears her name, works directly on the board of this new government post. Before her death, Jo Cox had designed a plan to bring together all those individuals and organizations that were already “fighting against loneliness” in the country. The Commission and the Ministry are direct consequences of Cox’s activism.
And the problems associated with the effects of loneliness on humans may be deadly. The list cited on the Commission’s website is a reminder of the reality in which we live. And if we stop to think about the reality that awaits a visibly aging Galicia, perhaps a Ministry of Loneliness (similar to the one already existing there to promote equality) may not be such a bad idea…
Imagine a public institution concerned with alleviating the direct and indirect effects of loneliness—exclusion, dependence, poverty—and promoting empathy…Imagine a situation in which an organization similar to the Rede Galega de Loita contra a Pobreza (EAPN, or the Galician Network against Poverty) would be in charge, much like Jo Cox’s Commission, to give advice to this Ministry and be able, with everyone’s help, to improve the populace’s quality of life. As the very same Jo Cox used to say: “young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate.”