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Saturday, September 26, 2009


"...No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for me." John Donne (1572-1631) The meaning of this famous quote is that human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. Donne was a Christian but this concept is shared by other religions, as well.
Donne lived in Tudor and Stewart England, and at that time the tolling of the church bells, to mark various events, was an important feature of daily life.
Ernest Hemmingway helped to make this phrase commonplace in the language when he chose to use the quotation in his 1940-published book about the Spanish Civil War. Hemmingway refers back to 'for when the bell tolls' and to 'no man is an island' to demonstrate and examine his feelings of solidarity with the allied groups fighting the fascists. There was a strong feeling amongst many intellectuals around the world at the time that it was a moral duty to fight facism, which they feared may take root world-wide if not checked. This was given voice later in the well-known poem:
FIRST THEY CAME FOR JEWS attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984):
First they came for Jews,
and I did not speak out,
because I was not a Jew.

They they came for Communists,
and I did not speak out,
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for trade unionists,
and I did not speak out,
because I was not a trade unionists.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

I was visiting a friend the other day. She is recovering from foot surgery and mostly home bound these days. While I was there, her step father was in the neighbor's yard next door helping out. A senior citizen couple resides next door and my friend's step dad was mowing their lawn. When I drove away, I could not help but notice the elderly gentleman slowly pushing his lawn mower, while my friend's stepdad cruised through the yard on his riding mower.
As a fifty-something woman, I find myself more observant, more cognizant of circumstances that are going on around me.
While I pray that our generation will not be faced with the hateful illustration of facism in the above poem, I hope that I will be found faithful to aid those in my path that have needs.
This picture of these two neighbors working together to accomplish a task, is a simple, but important reminder to look for opportunities in our sphere of influence where we can make a difference in the lives of others, day-by-day.

1 comment:

  1. Joan, thank you for directing me here...I am puzzled that nobody commented. Was this early in your blogging? No need to answer, I'll look it up.

    How SO undeniably true, that no single person is an island nobody can say they are a "loner". Many still have need to learn that. But with only a "need" little chance there is of any happening. Is also desirable a DESIRE! That is what I find. Need it and WANT it!