John Donne’s famous poem “No Man Is An Island” is worth a second look this week.
No Man Is An Island
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
Each death does indeed diminish each of us, and that was made crystal clear as we watched the horror unfold before us this week. The bell tolled many times for me and for each of us yesterday, and I thought of the poignant ending to Donne’s powerful poem. Do I really believe that mankind is that connected? I should. God created us to connect, but we separate, choose sides, hide, and mind our own business. It’s what’s wrong with the world. Oneness is God’s plan. Individuality is what Satan prefers.
Each day 21,000 children die in this world. “The silent killers are poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. Despite the scale of this daily/ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage.”(Global Issues)
The numbers numb, and the statistics cause us to run for cover if we forget to see ourselves as “involved in mankind.” I suppose the fact that we could do something to prevent the 21,000 daily deaths makes us uncomfortable. Out of sight, out of mind keeps the horrible statistics from haunting me. Haunting is the word I would use for this terrible week. The images have literally haunted and left me reeling.
John Donne didn’t write his poem to make us cower and cover our faces. He wrote it to remind us that we are all in this together. We are stronger when we connect because we are closer to one another and to God when we understand the point of this poem. Christ called us to love God and one another. When we grasp that truth and remember that we are not islands, we will walk in God’s kingdom with the light and life that Christ brings into this world.
John 1:1-5 has helped me so very much today:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
The darkness does not comprehend the Light, but it does flee from it. Let your light shine in a way that will disperse the darkness, and live the life Christ makes possible for all of us. I will attend two funerals this week, and my heart hurts from the losses close to home as well as those far to the north and around the world. The bell tolls for me, and its tolling has caused my heart to tremble this week and remember that I am not alone. That is a comforting thought if I remember Who is the author and perfecter of my faith. I’ll leave you with those words of comfort from Hebrews 12:2
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”