Saturday, February 26, 2011

Common Threads

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 any manner of thy friends 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
-John Donne

In the midst of this hyper-technologically advanced age in the history of humankind, I often feel that Americans take for granted the value of being in community with other people.

Growing up in a small town, everyone knew everyone. The turnover rate was low; most of us that graduated from the local high school had known each other since elementary school. We had shared experiences, common memories, a shared existence. My family was an oddity because we had only just moved into town when I was in third-grade.

Here in the city, they have different ways. Amidst the masses, there is an anonymity that causes one to feel overwhelmed, disconnected. Instead of knowing everyone in town, one can only possibly know a small handful.

I dislike people, but rarely do I dislike a person. When each person becomes more of a nameless face in an amorphous crowd, it is harder to empathize, sympathize, and harmonize. How can I feel my neighbor's pain if I do not know who he is, what his life is like, from whence he comes and whither he goes?

So here is to all of the friends, past, present, and future. To the people who share our lives, who enter them and do not leave. The ones who are able to silently remind us that even when we feel like islands, we are at least part of a vast archipelago.

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