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Robert L. Peters

30 November 2018

No Man is an Island

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.

—John Donne (1572–1631), Meditation XVII

In 1972, I was valedictorian of my graduating high school class at Black Forest Academy. I recited this poem by John Donne as the core of my address. I still feel the piece expresses deep empathy and humanity, welcome traits in a world that seems to skew increasingly isolationist and echoes with ever-louder, exclusionary nationalism. The ‘Brexit‘ issue in particular has (almost daily) put Donne’s wise words “back on my radar”…

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