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.
Am I a rock, an island afloat in a vast universe of indifference or “part of the main” and “piece of the continent?” The Janaforma crew of the starship, La Ventana, face this question in One, the final book of the Janaforma Trilogy.
Added, October 19, 2012, 3:54 PM
Am I a rock, an island afloat in a vast universe of indifference or “part of the main…piece of the continent?” If I direct my question outward, the question does not lead to any self-evident truth, but rather to a choice we ask ourselves. Do we choose to be one with others or are we alone? It’s my personal decision to approach life with empathy so I can’t turn around when it’s inconvenient and say, “I don’t agree with you, therefore you are my enemy.”
I reconcile this philosophy by looking inside myself to the cooperative tension between my mind and feelings. I see my fear and doubt speaking with many voices while feelings use shame to animate the endless voices of my internal judgment. When I first approached my internal noise, I barely could see my real self among the distortions thrown up by doubt, fear, shame. However, when I began dialoguing with these internal voices, gave them faces, I began to understand my real self.
Webster defines “understanding” as “the quality or condition of one who understands; comprehension.” An understanding person is someone who is sympathetic or empathetic. Understanding opens our minds and soothes our feelings with assurance; and the quirky magic involved in understanding is that when we understand, understanding becomes ubiquitous throughout our being.
If we want to create authentic and lasting change in society, then we need to communicate with others from the strength of internal morality. Does this philosopical modus operandi mean that sometimes individuals are going to take advantage and we are going to open ourselves to more emotional bumps and bruises? Yes, but the bumps and bruises are tenderizering and exposes us to our own empathy and gives our human experience authentic depth.