Tag: John Donne

Trust, truth and community, Pt. 3.

How a very ancient concept has modern attributes.

One might be forgiven for thinking that community is an odd bed-fellow with trust and truth.  Many might think that faith would be a more logical third leg, so to speak.

However, I hope to show that in today’s world where trust and truth are beleaguered qualities a rethinking of community is critically vital for the long-term health of mankind.

Community

Can’t resist a third look-up in Roget’s Thesaurus.

community noun

Persons as an organised body: people, public, society.

For me two words jump out from that definition: persons; organised.

The challenge is that the word organised is easily interpreted as an organisation with leaders and followers.  But that’s not how community is regarded in the context of this third essay.

“No man is an island”, John Donne wrote in 1624.

This is a quotation from John Donne (1572-1631). It appears in Devotions upon emergent occasions and seuerall steps in my sicknes – Meditation XVII, 1624:

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…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.”

Thus for the vast majority of people on the face of this planet, we are linked to others and how we live our lives is fundamentally influenced by those others about us.  In a past life, I lived in the village of Harberton in South Devon.  The population of Harberton was 300 persons.

An E. M. Morison (Totnes) postcard, bearing a 3p stamp, which gives a sending date between Feb 1971 and Sept 1973.
An E. M. Morison (Totnes) postcard, bearing a 3p stamp, which gives a sending date between Feb 1971 and Sept 1973.

Now I was lucky when I moved into Harberton because my two sisters, Rhona and Corinne, had lived in the area for many years and it was easy for me to be positioned as ‘the brother’.  Nevertheless, the way that the village embraced all newcomers was wonderful and within a very short time one felt a settled member of the community.

Same for Jean and me as relative newcomers to our property just 4 miles from Merlin, Oregon. All of our neighbours have embraced us and helped us understand this new rural life that we have embarked on.  We feel part of the local community.

Yet it doesn’t stop there.

Obviously, I’m a WordPress user!  Learning from Dogs is a WordPress blog!  But were you aware of the size of the WordPress community? (As of now!)

How many posts are being published?

Users produce about 44.5 million new posts and 56.7 million new comments each month.

How many people are reading blogs?

Over 409 million people view more than 14.7 billion pages each month.

Even my funny little blog has 959 followers!

What that figure doesn’t reveal is how many of my followers have offered support, openness and real loving friendship. None better demonstrated than by the comments left by readers when I announced the recent death of Dhalia.

Think of the way that untold numbers of internet users rely on that ‘worldwide web’ for referrals, opinions or knowledge about anything ‘under the sun’.

So while there might be many aspects of our new technological world that create unease, the opportunities for having ‘virtual’ friends to complement our social friends make this era unprecedented.

I would go so far as to say this. That the way that knowledge and information can be shared around the world in no time at all may be our ultimate protection against those who would seek to harm us and this planet.

How to close these essays? Perhaps no better than as follows:

On Wednesday evening we were joined by neighbours, Dordie and Bill.  My post on truth came up in discussion. Bill mentioned that he had read about a person who had spent many years studying the texts of all the world’s major religions.  What had emerged was that across all those great religions there was a common view as to what the long-term health and survival of societies requires.

It is this: the telling of truth and the keeping of promises!