One of the basic sources of modern man’s suffering is his lack of social belonging.
The personal loneliness that many feel and the general sense of alienation that people experience nowadays are expressions of the fact that man has ceased to be “planted in the earth.”
Today, most social affiliation is based on practical need, not meaningful values.
People join groups to protect their common interests, but this is almost like professional affiliation.
They do not feel that this is their home, that there is a place in which they are planted.
The social unit comes together as a contingency to build mutual defensive and offensive mechanisms, but no more than that.
Many people are like nomads who incidentally arrive at a certain place, but there is no meaningful tie that binds them to it.
They feel no special relationship with their place, and are therefore easily uprooted.
In a certain sense, modern people are like plastic decorative plants, which are lifeless and therefore can “flower” without any need of the earth.
This reality results from the aspiration to the ideal of personal freedom.
The individual wishes to detach himself from any social bond and endeavors to turn himself into the essence and foundation of all existence.
The insistence on the right to be an independent individualist allows one to adapt everywhere equally, because in any case one does not truly belong anywhere.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz