October 28, 2007

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

Posted in Philosophy tagged , , , at 1:42 am by randallbutisingh

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
( Letter to Stabroek News in Guyana)

Two events in world history both within the present century touched my deeper feeling and brought tears to my eyes. One, five decades ago was the death of the saintly character, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known as the Mahatma which means great soul, when he was assassinated by a religious fanatic at one of his prayer meetings. I was a young man then who followed his Satyagrah or Soul Force movement for the liberation of India. I was at school with primary pupils when a friend brought the news. I was stunned for a while, then I sat, rested my head on the desk, and the tears flowed copiously. This did not happen to me alone. People in all parts of the world felt deeply touched also.

The other event was recent. It concerned the death of a young woman, by no means saintly, who also met her death in tragic circumstances. She was hounded by greedy paparazzi who sought to expose her private life to gossip mongers for the entertainment of the gossip hungry. I’m no longer young, but my maturity could not stop the tears which came unbidden.

Why is it that these two characters, so very different caused me to feel the way I did? One , a frail old man, small in stature, by no means comely in the accepted sense, who went about scantily clad, possessing nothing save six household items, and the only picture on the wall of his tiny room – that of the Master who fired his imagination in the “Sermon on the mount.” We must remember, however that the Mahatma was Hindu and never professed Christianity. The other, a young vibrant woman, a beautiful princess, who possessed wealth and was mother to a son who will on day be heir to the throne of Great Britain.

Both of these individuals made sacrifices for greater causes. The Mahatma gave up all his material goods, his family and a lucrative career in order to serve his country and humanity. He toiled tirelessly for freedom from the British yoke, he went to prison, endured fasting so that India would become free and united.. His weapon was Soul Force and Non-cooperation with what he considered evil. By his renunciation, he was able to attract princes, statesmen and scholars to his humble mud-floored dwelling at Sewagram.

Princess Diana, on the other hand, gave up the opportunity to become Queen of Great Britain to become Queen of hearts to millions throughout the world through her genuine concern for suffering humanity. Her zest for living and her own quest for happiness did not preclude her from having the interest of mankind at heart.

We should learn from these two characters that we are all involved and cannot close our eyes to suffering humanity. One writer rightly expresses the indivisibility of humanity as: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.”

— Randall Butisingh

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