Responding to the Atlanta Shootings
For Whom the Bell Tolls
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each 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 thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
— John Donne
Devotions on emergent occasions
“During Donne’s period as dean [of Saint Paul’s in the Church of England] his daughter Lucy died, aged eighteen. In late November and early December 1623 he suffered a nearly fatal illness, thought to be either typhus or a combination of a cold followed by a period of fever. During his convalescence he wrote a series of meditations and prayers on health, pain, and sickness that were published as a book in 1624 under the title of Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. One of these meditations, Meditation XVII, contains the well known phrases “No man is an Iland” (often modernised as “No man is an island”) and “…for whom the bell tolls”. In 1624 he became vicar of St Dunstan-in-the-West, and 1625 a prolocutor to Charles I.” Source: Wikipedia
First They Came for the Socialists
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
— Martin Niemöller
According to Wikipedia “Niemöller was a national conservative and initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler, but he became one of the founders of the Confessing Church, which opposed the Nazification of German Protestant churches. He vehemently opposed the Nazis’ Aryan Paragraph, but made remarks about Jews that some scholars have called antisemitic. For his opposition to the Nazis’ state control of the churches, Niemöller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1938 to 1945. He narrowly escaped execution. After his imprisonment, he expressed his deep regret about not having done enough to help victims of the Nazis. He turned away from his earlier nationalistic beliefs and was one of the initiators of the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt. From the 1950s on, he was a vocal pacifist and anti-war activist, and vice-chair of War Resisters’ International from 1966 to 1972. He met with Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War and was a committed campaigner for nuclear disarmament.”
Tailpiece — My take
My own comments are a plea. We must begin to move away from allowing the last 4 years to define the ethos of American life.
The antipathies must begin to wane even in our thoughts and rush to judgment and the blame games.
Our responses to events should drop soothing balms to wounds of those hurting so that individuals, families, and communities can begin to heal.
Cuts are quicker and easier. Healing takes far longer and as a journey, it is tougher to begin.
In virtually all human societies, forgiveness is seen as a virtue. And it’s easier to forgive when we see the aggressor, the assailant, and those exhibiting violent behaviors and traits as victims too worthy of our sympathies and compassion.
The hating should not be allowed to go on. Our world deserves better.