“No man is an island entire of himself.”
We sure like to pull things out of context sometimes. We also like to pull people out of context. This quote is pulled out of context. It has a deeper meaning than you probably know. I never knew the full quote until just now and it goes perfectly with what I want to say.
My point is that groups and communities are some of the most important things in our lives. Maybe they are the most important.
It isn’t right for us to be alone. We live in community. We thrive in community. We are born alone and we die alone, yet while we are on this Earth we are in community.
Community helps bring meaning to our lives. Working and playing with our fellow human beings is what brings the most meaning to our lives.
We seem to be preoccupied with what group we are in too. Some people feel like they can’t belong to a certain group because they aren’t good enough. Many people come and go in organizations because they are too “clique-ish”. Meaning that they are too well defined and tend not to let new people in without first having them pass the often unspoken test.
We use groups to exclude but we also use groups to include. It is a good feeling to be part of a group. To define yourself in a way you feel comfortable with and enjoy.
We define ourselves by race, creed, nationality, occupation, religion, abilities, hobbies, skills, etc. There are many ways to define ourselves and surprisingly, if we think about it, it mostly has to do with grouping.
This can’t be understated or underestimated. As much as some of us hate being “labeled” we do it to ourselves all the time. When asked what we do we answer our occupation. You are labeling your own self by your occupation and thereby defining a large part of yourself. This is how humans operate. And it is perfectly acceptable.
Why is this important?
To quote a famous song, “Everybody needs somebody, sometimes…”
Although Thoreau’s idea of Self-Reliance is a worthy objective, it is something that is achieved over time and not in totality. We are meant to rely on our fellow human beings from the day we are born. No baby can take care of itself. Although we are much more self-reliant as adults we still have to rely on others.
This is important to think about and realize because it comes down to acceptance and love.
We learn to accept each other for who we are, limitations and all. This opens up the chance for us to help each other and not let pride get in the way. I openly accept that I need help in some areas. I also accept that I excel in areas that other people need help in. When you accept this you can begin to realize that it is not prideful to accept help or to give it. It is just how we live best in community.
So you can click the author to read the full quote, but I will give you the end of it to make the final point. Maybe you will find it interesting to know that two oft-quoted quotes are actually one…
“…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
Find the communties that you can best belong to. Learn to both give and take graciously. This is what helps make the world go round…