Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"No Man is an................"

From a book titled Pools of Lodging for the Moon by David K. Reynolds, PhD, a modern parable. I used this some seven years ago; recent inundations in Houston, Florida, the Islands and India brought it to mind again. Now I read that another severe hurricane threatens Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, before they've even had a chance to recover from the last one.

A repeat airing:
Water World

Once upon a fragile time people lived on the surface of a huge body of water. They walked on a thin film that covered the water's great depths. Sometimes the surface tension weakened in spots and someone began to sink. Those around the sinking person risked breaching the surface tension in order to rescue him or her. It was the custom. Such self-sacrifice was necessary in that world. When the rescuers were in danger they, too, could expect help.

Sometimes the tear in the surface film spread, there were whole chains of people lending a hand to their fellows. In that risky world it was good to know that supporting hands were ready to help when needed.

Nearby, another group of people lived on a small island. They were proud that each of them walked by the individual's own strength with no help or support from others. In other ways they were a very bright people. Yet because of their pride they were confined to their island. And they knew a chilly loneliness that their water-borne cousins never felt.

One of the part-truths in American culture is the part-myth of the self-made individual. That notion has both stimulated us and limited us. The other side of that truth is that we are all dependent on others for our successes and for our moment-by-moment existence.

My politically slanted brain read that tale as an analogy for socialism and conservatism/capitalism. Others might read it differently...if so it would be interesting to hear about it.

Comments from 2010 - summarised:
Astrology Unboxed/Fabienne said:
I saw it more in terms of religion. Catholics versus Protestants. Catholics putting more emphasis on the family, group and individuality is subordinated to the needs of the family, society and state. for example, it is still common for a women to live with her parents until she gets married even tough she has a career and could afford to live by herself.
On the other hand, protestants put emphasis on individual rights and children need to be independent as soon as possible. For example, if you are 18, you have to leave the house.
Having had the experience of both types of society emphasis, I can see the benefits from both. Although I must say that the emphasis on group does seems to provide more support, warmth and gregariousness. Individual rights, from my experience, leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Great for developing your individuality and assertiveness. Not so great for companionship.

Gian Paul responded...Astrology Unboxed/Fabienne: In an ideal, harmonious world family should be what you say, no matter of what religion. The cradle which prepares for empathy, love and understanding. But these days, considering the great number of divorced parents, tough educational curriculum (money, money) and general impossibility to believe in "authorities", young people must feel quite lost to whatever wind or fashion/fad is blowing.

Twilight said...Gian Paul ~ Agreed, it's a different world. Family and culture has changed a lot in the last 3 decades. I think that, in the USA for example, there was more feeling of the first Water World example of wanting everyone to have assistance when needed than there is now....FDR's way was getting there, but the path got lost somewhere.

R J Adams said...I agree with you, Twilight, though on reading the piece my mind immediately saw America as the island:
"They were proud that each of them walked by the individual's own strength with no help or support from others. In other ways they were a very bright people. Yet because of their pride they were confined to their island. And they knew a chilly loneliness that their water-borne cousins never felt."

Most Americans never leave their 'island', unless it's to vacation in Mexico or Canada. Much of the rest of the world is united, but because of its pride, America stands alone; an 'island', indeed.

Twilight said...RJ Adams ~~~ Yes, that is what the author had in mind too, according to his last lines - that the USA is akin to an island society, in spite of its size. The book was published in 1989 by the way. Politically, the US has never been a haven of social reform for long, there have been a few tries to get onto that road, or into a more Water World scenario, but always eventually attempts have been diverted....by assassination, persuasion, bribery, whatever.

Wisewebwoman said ...No (wo)man is an island indeed. What a marvellous book, T, you discover such interesting titles! Any more nuggets in this?

Twilight replied... There are more, yes. Maybe I'll return to it sometime - don't want to get into bother re copyright though. I think it'll be okay to use a couple of examples, as this is a not-for-profit blog.

Wisewebwoman, in 2010, quoted from John Donne - I thank them both for today's post title.

No Man is an Island by John Donne (1572-1631)

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.


R J Adams said...

Even more pertinent today - and I guess I stand by my 2010 comment. One day it's globalization, the next it's isolationism. When are we ever going to stop the wild swings of those darned pendulums?

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ "Widening gyre" - kind of! I think we've been out of earshot of that falconer for some time past!