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No man is an Island

by Sy OgulnickSeptember 2015

No man is an Island: A poem written by John Donne, poet and cleric in the 17th century. Worth a read and some thought.

The following are my thoughts on the title and its meaning (to me). I strongly agree that no person is an “Island entire of itself.” We are here because of others and also that we could not survive without their attention to our basic needs. Whether love and affection entered into the relationship from the earliest is of little concern since the need to survive must have been omnipresent. In any case, our need for others in order for us to be and exist is without question.

So I make a quantum leap from survival a few million years ago to this moment and what do I find? Our need for each other has not changed except that it is far more complex. We know the importance of love, nurturing and mutuality or lack thereof and its consequences. We also (at least in certain economic levels) witness children remaining as children needing to be cared for by their parents well into their late teens and beyond. Compare this to the fact that most humans did not survive a quarter of the time people live today. So being a contributing part of one’s family and group must have taken place by the time a child could run.

From our animal like beginning we know that the need for humans to be part of a group/band must be biological and a matter of nature and survival. Today we still maintain the biological imperative for connection with others, but minimally as this relates to survival and/or meeting basic needs. Beyond a few isolated tribes we are beyond hunting and living from one meal to the next. But the need for membership has not diminished. In fact, our needs for specific others may be greater than ever.

This is where the Inner Circle comes into play and is, in my opinion, essential to living in our modern and ever changing world. Generally most people do not think of their family, friends and acquaintances as Inner Circles. Yet the great majority of people are part and parcel with multiple Inner Circles (home, school, work, etc.)   These Inner Circles are generally taken for granted and for the most part are dysfunctional. Why dysfunctional? Because individuals in a well functioning Inner Circle speak their mind, offer their experience and knowledge and are easily given the role of leader when the event is theirs to lead 

Compare this to most Inner Circles where we find rigid and tight control. Where power is fixed and the leader is the leader, is the leader, is the leader and how and when do events dictate behavior, dialogue, being vulnerable? Most importantly, when and how does empowerment take place?

Look at your many and different Inner Circles. In which Circle are you most yourself and most open to the other? This is how people need to be and to live and work together.

Survival for most of us is not the issue today, but being is.  Sy

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