Let’s reconsider our school motto. In 1623, the poet John Donne was convinced that the plague, the “Black Death” that was more than decimating Europe, had come for him. Unwell, he listened to the plague bells outside, convinced that his body was next for an early mass grave. He survived the day and the plague; and today, the words he wrote that winter are more relevant than ever:
“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 if a manor of thy friend’s
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.”
Never send to ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for all of us. And this lesson must, must, must dictate the way forward when this plague of our time passes. Not only are we all connected to each other, but we are also inextricably connected to the environment that supports us. Economic life is meaningless without the earth beneath our feet and the green around us and the blue above. Today, on this Earth day, we must remember to apply the lessons we are being taught: when the plague passes, live thoughtfully. Let none of us be guilty of piling plastic back on beaches empty of footprints for months. Let’s all make small gains wherever we can… Be less wasteful of our time and our resources, and more mindful of the purer values that nurture our spirits and our souls. This is the time we stop allowing wasteful materialism to fill a collective emptiness, and fill that emptiness with mindfulness of each other and our world: because the world will never be the same again, and so this is a magical opportunity to NOT go back to normal, but to go back to better.