It typically starts with a lot of pain, then relief and finally euphoria when the cries of a new-born baby is heard for the very first time. Life begins.
We are all one. But is it enough?
In 1623, the Poet John Donne wrote Meditation XVII and in it he wrote these famous lines, “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.”
According to Donne, it is not enough. We do not exist alone. There are mothers, fathers, family members, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, neighbours, casual passerby that affect us and that we affect both directly and indirectly through any number of degrees of separation.
In 2000, Tom Hanks played Chuck Noland in the movie Cast Away about a man who spends four years on a small deserted island learning to exist and take care of himself physically, mentally and spiritually. However, it becomes clear that he does not want to exist alone any longer. He wants to go home and be with the ones he loves. So, he builds a raft and does just that.
In life, we go on a series of trips, all within something we call life’s journey. Along the way, we can lose our way through our own negligence or ignorance or through the actions of someone or some other unknown entity. These ‘bumps’ along the way can have tough and even devastating effects on us. In some cases, it can lead to the loss of life including our own. While we may not be able to choose our way out of a situation in some cases, we more times than not can choose a way to continue on with our journey.
However, it is sometimes only with the help of someone else that we can get out of a difficult time or situation. It may be through the legal system, a church or non-profit organization or even the help of a loved one or even a stranger that we are given the opportunity to go along our life’s path again.
In 1991, U2 provided us with Achtung Baby and among its treasure trove of songs is One. The version of the song I chose here directly relates to the theme here. Whether we go through good times or bad times, victories or defeats in life, knowing and having someone to share life’s moments with is necessary and vital to our existence. We cannot exist alone without anyone there for us. To do so would lead to destruction. We see this play out all around the world. In our streets and in our homes. Further, it appears in video clips and photographs splashed all over the Internet, on TV and on newsstands.
One’s fortune or misfortune is shared with the world not in an intimate and respectful manner, but too often in a base and even demeaning manner. The fact that we share each other’s stories is part of what makes us human. If we are to be as One, then we need to learn from each other and yes, even learn to help one another more often.
Is one enough?