BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

John Denney 12 September 2007

No man is an island, entire of itself



Yesterday, America commemorated the murder, six years ago, of nearly three thousand people when four planes were hijacked and flown into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. The world was truly shocked at the magnitude of the crime, and our feelings are still raw. We burn with righteous anger at this week's Al Qaida video bulletin, where Osama bin Laden continues to taunt and threaten our world.


And yesterday, too, we mourned the death of seventeen-year-olds Taylor Mintus and Joshua Mace in a car crash in Enderby. Our hearts go out to their family and friends, and our thoughts and prayers are with them. We may not have known these young men, but we share the sense of loss of all who did. The sudden and unexpected death of anyone causes us great distress, all the more so when the lives that have ended have been short.


The idea that people are not isolated from one another, that mankind is interconnected, was well expressed by John Donne, some 400 years ago, when he said[1]. All mankind is of one author, and is one volume. The author that John Donne speaks of is God, the Lord and Father of mankind, who gave us all the breath of life[2].


So it is a comfort that Donne goes on to say when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language. That's about our hope and expectation that there is a better world yet to come, the other side of death.


And Donne continues: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Truly, mankind are brothers and sisters, something that Al Qaida prefers to forget.


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[1] Meditation XVII, from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, 1624

[2] Genesis 2:7