My title is quoted from the English poet John Donne’s Meditation XVII. “No man is an island…..” means nobody can be so self- sufficient that they do not have to rely on other people for company and support.
My friend Yaa told me she had thoroughly learnt the truth in this quotation. She emphasized she had certainly realized she could not live life to the fullest even with people who were only her family and friends. Yaa could not ignore other people including those who upset and offended her or were difficult to get along with.
Yaa had learnt this lesson many times over. To prove her point however, she described only what happened between her and one other person on two occasions. That person was Kofi, a young man who had joined the company where Yaa was a senior employee.
Kofi, a junior staff member, was both a chronic liar and an extremely polite person. Whenever any job related matter came up for discussion between him and Yaa, Kofi was sure to later change the story whenever he chatted with other staff members. He made sure he portrayed Yaa as a terrible person.
Yaa decided to take the wind out of his sails. She started discussing issues with Kofi only in the presence of other reliable employees. That way, Kofi no longer had the opportunity to upset her while Yaa maintained a polite attitude toward him.
For a few hours one particular day, just the two of them were present at work. Kofi suddenly became very ill! While Yaa was wondering how to get him to the hospital, a doctor friend of hers showed up. She got the doctor to see Kofi and even prescribe medicine for him. Kofi’s condition improved shortly after. He was so surprised by Yaa’s attitude that he quickly expressed his hearty gratitude to her.
On another occasion at work, Yaa could not see clearly after returning from a visit to the hospital. The drops her eye doctor had put in her eyes had blurred her vision. Because of that, Yaa could not stop at the pharmacy to buy the drugs she needed. She mentioned this fact to a colleague. Kofi overheard the conversation and promptly offered to collect Yaa’s drugs for her.
In the Bible, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers who initially wanted to kill him. Years later, Joseph was able to spare their lives, forgive them and save them and their families from famine ( Genesis 42-45). In that act of kindness, Joseph also saved his father Jacob and his younger brother Benjamin from famine. He was able to declare to his older brothers, “ But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” (Genesis 45:5 New Living Translation).
In the same Bible, Jesus forgave Peter who had denied three times he knew him (Jesus Christ). Jesus even gave Peter the important assignment of caring for those who later believed in him- Jesus. “Then Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep’”. (John 21:15-17 New Living Translation). Peter could not have played his new role if Jesus had not first forgiven him and strengthened his faith.
In our dealings with those who treat us in ways similar to how Kofi treated Yaa, we have to display wisdom, particularly that of the Bible . This implies taking steps which will help the offender improve his relationship skills. In the process, these steps can benefit us also.
Indeed life as we find it and life in the Bible both show us, “ No man is an island , entire of itself ; every man is a piece of the continent,a part of the main”.