Guest columnist John Sheehan: No man is an island

Smith College students during a rally after occupying College Hall as part of a protest demanding divestment from military contractors on Thursday, March 28, 2024.

Smith College students during a rally after occupying College Hall as part of a protest demanding divestment from military contractors on Thursday, March 28, 2024. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Smith College students occupy College Hall on Thursday afternoon as part of a protest demanding divestment from military contractors.

Smith College students occupy College Hall on Thursday afternoon as part of a protest demanding divestment from military contractors. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

By JOHN SHEEHAN

Published: 04-01-2024 5:59 PM

 

On Good Friday, I decided to do something different. Instead of going to church, I went to stand in solidarity with people involved in the struggle for peace and justice at Smith College and the Coolidge Bridge in Northampton.

John Donne’s poem has been resonating through my head and heart lately. “No man is an island/Entire in itself/Each is a piece of the continent/ A part of the main … Each man’s death diminishes me/For I am involved in mankind/Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls/It tolls for thee.”

At both demonstrations, the people know that we are all connected. At Smith College, I talked with students and faculty members who want their institution to divest from companies involved in the slaughter/bloodbath in Gaza. At the Coolidge Bridge, the members of Jewish Voices for Peace and their friends were carrying signs with important messages: “Cease fire,’’ “Stop the genocide,” “Not in my name,” “Jews opposed to killing children.”

 Yes, the Jews who were massacred on Oct. 7, and the estimated 31,000 Palestinians killed by the Israel Defense Forces are all connected.

President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watch the daily slaughter of women, men, and children, with dry eyes, deaf ears and hearts of stone while the rest of the world watch this bloodbath in horror. The students and faculty members at the Smith College demonstration have sadness in their eyes, as do the Jews for Peace at the Coolidge Bridge demonstration.

In the comics, Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” At the Coolidge Bridge, a young father was holding a sleeping baby in his chest pouch. I recalled the image in the news of a young Palestinian father, holding his 2-year-old child, killed by an Israeli bomb, or likely by a U.S. bomb dropped on the child by the IDF.

Then I saw in my mind the image of the young mother who just quit her job in the U.S. State Department. She had been objecting and questioning the massacre in Gaza, but her objections fell on deaf ears, so she quit. Someday her child will ask, mommy, what did you do to stop the war?

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Yes, we are all connected one to another at Smith College, at the Coolidge Bridge and in Gaza. No man is an island. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls/ It tolls for thee.

John Sheehan lives in Southampton.