At first, I was attracted to the “No man is an island” quote as a theme, a complete meme in itself. I was thinking about people living alone and how much harder that situation may seem at this time of year, a time of families getting together, celebrating, enjoying each other.
I’ve been thinking about the factors that drive people to live alone – circumstance and loss, through death or other separation; homelessness through not having much choice, the lesser of two evils, or through battles with mental health; recent (or not so recent) loss of a loved one; many other reasons. Hard not to feel like an island, then.
It may seem, at this time of year, that you wouldn’t choose to be an island, entire of itself. But it’s possible to list the many rewards of living alone – if you choose to live alone; the choice to do and be whatever you want, without running it by a committee first, the freedom of that is something you hug secretly to yourself and give thanks to whatever higher power you give thanks to, most definitely. It seems to me that the person who chooses to be alone frequently forgets this is a bonus, while the person living with people looks at the single person with envy! Only sometimes, though.
When I read the whole poem I realised I’d only focussed on one important aspect of it. Another is that we have a responsibility to look after everyone else on the planet – “any man’s death diminishes me”. That my meaning, my purpose, is only established when I acknowledge I am part of a continent. This means we aren’t only sitting next to each other, passively, but we need to stand up for each other too. In the face of perceived injustice. To support and stand up for each others’ causes, if need be. If I sound the alarm for one – for me – it’s also for you.
A look at news stories around the world shows we are becoming less shy in stating our opinions online, or demonstrating for ourselves or for our neighbours. We’re making that stand in our small ways and in our bigger ways. It looks like we’ll just keep on doing so until things change. Let’s keep on being involved in mankind, shall we?