"Chimes in the Garden"
-At the Desert Retreat House-
Yesterday as the evening news reported how the spread of the Ebola virus had now infected a patient in a Texas hospital, I was struck by the response of a local resident, "How is it possible that this deadly African virus has come to America? I thought we had ways to protect our borders from dangerous stuff like that!" My immediate thought was, "How could it be possible that this virus wouldn't have eventually come to America?"
Back in the early 1960's, Marshall McLuhan, a popular philosopher of communication, prophetically coined the term "global village" in reference to his vision of the condition of this planet over the coming years. Way before there was even a hint of a world wide web, McLuhan predicted that the emerging technologies of the future would shrink the earth to the size of a small village in which everyone on the planet would be so interconnected that it would be as if everyone in the world were living next door to one another on the same village street.
At the time, his fellow academics scoffed at Professor McLuhan's outrageous predictions - nowadays we all know he was a visionary thinker. We do indeed live in a global village.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google- just a few years ago these words would have meant nothing to anyone; but today they are the media by which people in the entire world are indeed literally connected- as if we are all living next to one another on the same village street.
I can turn on CNN and get live reports of the events occurring in every corner of the globe. I can pick up my phone and dial a number reaching almost anyone I wish to talk with anywhere on the entire planet. I can get on an airplane and in a matter of hours I can be sharing a meal with people on the other side of the world.
The whole world even shops at the same store nowadays, it's called Amazon.com.
Many people today choose to bury their heads in the sand and fool themselves into believing that we can isolate ourselves from one another. Many people surround themselves with others who look and think alike. They hide within the gates of their protected communities, putting up walls and establishing borders and barriers to keep out foreigners and different others. But as I see it, borders nowadays are essentially artificial - they fool us into thinking we are isolated, alone and cut off.
The truth is that we all do live in a global village, and for the sake of humanity's future, we should all start acting as if we were living next door to one another on the same village street.
We all share in the same joys and we all share in the same pain. We all have Ebola and we all have AIDS. We are all refugees and immigrants. We are all torn apart by the ravages of war. None of us are foreigners in a distant land. We are all neighbors who live next to one another on the same street in this tiny global village.
I am reminded of something the poet John Donne wrote back 400 years ago. Upon hearing a church bell toll to announce the death of someone who had died in his isolated little English village, Donne wrote the lines of this famous poem:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
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.