Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics
The development and impact of the Coronavirus disease as evidently had a negative implication to the world and humanity in general. The plague, which has so far claimed approximately 50 598 deaths worldwide and more than 923 626 confirmed cases as at 7th April 2020 according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports, has totally redefined life and operations in the world today. As much as social distancing, social isolation or guaranteeing regulations have taken prominence in the fight against COVID-19, the community role is still necessary for human survival.
The role of the community for individual has since time immemorial been acknowledged in various perspectives. However, the development of infectious plagues such as the current Coronovirus pandemic has created new perspectives on how the role of the community should be perceived. This is precipitated by the measures advocated by government officials, health authorities to fight the pandemic. These measures include among others, cancelling socialization, gatherings, minimizing travel, tele-working, doing away with handshakes, working from home, and aggressive sanitation efforts (Milman, 2020). These measures have actually redefined humanity and put into question on whether man can actually survive while alone. This thinking is fuelled by the current development which assumes that having physical social contacts with others is a recipe for catching Coronovirus disease. This has necessitated people to live in isolation, quarantine, further reigniting the thoughts and debates on whether man can fully live without a community.
John Donne in his “Meditation” argues that “There is no man who is an island, self sustaining; instead, each man is part of the continent”. The author further observes that every person contributes to the welfare of another and that if one is affected or dies, this affects his immediate social beings directly and indirectly. For Donne, the community is important for individual survival and one whether he likes it or not needs it for sustenance. These sentiments have been supported by Waldo Emerson who also notes that every man is born with a cause, and that each true man is a country and requires indefinitely time and space to achieve the purpose of which he was created. The implication here is that every person is unique in his or her own way and it is this uniqueness which is needed by others in the society to survive. Just like Donne, Emerson also agrees that an institution, society, community and even the country are shadows of one man. This generally reveals the intricate nature of man who forms those institutions. Stated differently, it is a collection of men who forms an institution or community, and the absence of one will definitely affect this network. This also means the community will become extinct minus the presence of representatives. Therefore, the community will need an individual without which it will not exist while the individual will need the community for his sustenance.
On a personal level, I duly support Donne’s and Emerson’s arguments on the role of the community for individual survival. The current developments of Covid-19 and isolation measures notwithstanding, any human being will still need other people and their survices/potential for sustenance. Just like Donne, I can also say that there is no person who can claim to be self-sustaining. As much as people will be required to isolate themselves from others during this time of Coronovirus, they will need food, water, electricity, housing, clothes, medication and other stuff to survive. For those claiming that they can self-sustain as an island, just figure out this way, will you be in a position to provide yourself with all the food you need? are you able to provide yourself with tap water, sewage services, housing or even make yourselves clothes. What about gas or cooking materials, matchsticks, salt and other cooking ingredients? The implication here is that if man is left alone on earth without anyone else, chances are high that such a man will end up dying.
From my perspective, I understand that nature of rather the creator ensured that each human being was unique for a reason. In fact all people have got their unique potentials and talents that others may be devoid of. While others are security officers, there are those who prefer to be doctors, nurses, engineers, toilet workers, cleaners, general laborers, writers, health workers, mortuary attendants, cooks, drivers, teachers, conductors, electricians, technicians, waiters, bartenders, graphic designers among other professions. The desire and ability to work in various designations is spurred by talent, potential and affinity of individual person. This is made so by nature or rather the creator for people to complement one another and so enhance sustainability. In other words, it can be simply stated this way, one man may be weak in a particular area but strong in a given point. In this regard, the strong areas of this person are supposed to be beneficial to other people both directly and indirectly. On the other hand, the man will also be supported in his weak areas by those who are strong in those specific areas. Have you ever asked yourself why someone would be interested to work as a mortuary attendant, a pilot (which is risky? a mechanic, a toilet cleaner or even a bartender and other less glamorous job? After asking yourselve that question, then you actually need to ponder on what would have happened if all people were interested in just a particular career? Of course there could be chaos in the world today. This is how intricate a community is and how it is supposed to operate. This thus implies a dependence of the community (in this case other person) by an individual and the importance/uniqueness of each individual in any community.
In conclusion, John Donne’s articulation on the role and importance of the community can be said to be valid. There is absolutely no human being who can claim to be self-sustaining as each need the community to survive. On the other hand, the community needs individuals who without it cannot survive. Even as the current scenario where Covid-19 is taking center stage and the seemingly individualistic measures that endeavors to reinforce self-isolation as a way of mitigating this condition, the community is still important in determining the welfare and sustainability of an individual.
Donne John. “Meditation”. The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose, Modern Library.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882. Self-Reliance. White Plains, N.Y. :Peter Pauper Press, 1967.
World Health Organization. (2020) Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 72. Available at: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200401-sitrep-72-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=3dd8971b_2 (accessed on 7th April, 2020)
Milman, Oliver. Covid-19 outbreak: what do health experts mean by 'flattening the curve'? Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/10/covid-19-coronavirus-flattening-the-curve (accessed on 7th, April, 2020).