‘No man is an island’: we are interconnected

By Tracy Brighten

No man is an island

I’ll admit to not having a great memory for quotations, but a line from one of poet John Donne’s meditations has stood the test of time for me: ‘No man is an island, entire of itself’.

What resonates is the idea that no-one is self-sufficient—we need each other to thrive in a world that’s far greater than one individual.

Donne’s words have been on my mind recently while thinking again about my reasons for writing this Nature in Mind blog. I’m not writing it just for myself, for one individual. I’m writing to connect with people the world over.

Unlike John Donne, who was a theologian, I’m an agnostic. You could say that Donne’s words weren’t meant for readers like me. Yet I care deeply about family, people, animals and the beautiful and amazing world we live in. I understand and value the interconnectedness of humanity that Donne is talking about.

Donne wrote his meditations while suffering a life-threatening illness. He was looking for the wider significance of natural and personal events such as suffering and death. He mused that we share each other’s suffering, that it’s part of the universal human condition—to learn from another’s suffering is to treasure it.

While I don’t share Donne’s feeling that suffering and death bring us closer to God, I do share the feeling that the loss of one man is a loss to humanity. I like his idea that we’re all connected. We are individuals with a responsibility to something much greater. I’d like to extend our responsibility to humanity and include nature. We can be committed to all living things.

Nature in Mind is an online community where individuals who care about animal welfare, the environment and mental health can come together. It’s a community that believes communication is a catalyst for change.

You may be like me, only able to help in small ways by choosing a more ethical way of life and joining in with the online conversation.

Or you may lead a business that follows sustainable and ethical practises, or you may work for a conservation, environmental, or mental health organisation. You may be a scientist, a conservationist, or a ranger in the field, making a direct difference every day.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, I’d love you to share your knowledge and experiences on this blog.

‘No man is an island’. We can learn together as a community. We can connect and be that continent.

Extract from Devotions From Emergent Occasions Meditation XVII by John Donne (1572 – 1631)

No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man 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 thy friend’s Or of thine own were: 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 thee.

Image credit: Giants Causeway by spatialpan on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)