The Toll For Awakening

In times of national grief, it is important to find hope in the words of leaders, thinkers, and poets.

by Jeanette McMahon • Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

I originally posted this to my blog after the Newtown shootings, but I feel it is just as relevent in the wake of recent events in Boston. I feel this message strongly and wanted to share it here in hopes that it will bring those who read it back to a place of hopefulness.

An excerpt from the often-quoted Meditation 17 by John Donne feels like an appropriate opening for today's post:

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.

Donne is not the first (or the last) to make the observation that our inter-connectedness as human beings makes it vital for us to be actively involved in the support and uplifting of one another. I think many are having a hard time moving beyond the shock and horror of recent events. Many are demanding change and stuck in a place of outrage, fear, and anger, which makes it difficult to see how we as a society have played a part. Truly, I think things will change only once we are able to do so.

These young men who are taking up weapons and taking lives, they are like castaways who have fallen off that 'part of the main' that Donne speaks of - bright red flags, waving high up in the sky for all to see, sending a message with their actions that is near impossible to comprehend when viewed from a place of fear and powerlessness. Comments attributed to Morgan Freeman (verified now to be a hoax) regarding the Newtown shootings state that it is the media's fault for sensationalizing these horrific acts, thus giving the perpetrators a desirable opportunity for notoriety; another opinion, expressed by a man named Seth Walker in this articulate and impassioned Facebook post, claims that the high inflation of the '70s and the "systemic disinvestment in our country" are ultimately to blame; even further, an article has been written by a woman named Liza Long about the role of mental illness in relation to this issue.

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