‘No man is an island’

By Herbert Vego

“NO man is an island,” begins an immortal song so titled. “No man stands alone. Each man’s joy is joy to me. Each man’s grief is my own…”

The idiom, as lifted from a 1642 sermon by English clergyman John Donne, holds that human beings do badly when isolated from others, and so need to be part of a community in order to thrive.

At this time when the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is raging, it inspires us into playing our part for the good of our family, our neighbors, colleagues, end everybody within our inner circle.

This is especially true in the business world. A businessman cannot ink a deal without interacting with customers.

If you are the boss, you need to be on good terms with employees, suppliers, customers and government agencies.

If you are a hired hand, you have no choice but to be on good terms with the boss and co-workers.

In an article, famous American book author Robert Ringer wrote, “Even if you were to attempt to live a Thoreau-type life in the wilderness — a prospect that sounds rather boring — you still would find the need to talk to people from time to time. Food and medical care are two obvious reasons why.”

No matter how an individual is raised, the transition from childhood to adulthood can never refute the assumed reality that no one is perfect. We learn early on in childhood that a teacher may give a student a wrong grade for a right answer just because she dislikes him; or parents may play favorites among their children.

And so we get disappointed over “unfair treatment” from relying too much on another person. The more we rely on someone, the more we see his imperfection without realizing that they must have seen our imperfection, too.

On the brighter side, it compels us to be self-reliant individuals and non-judgmental of other people.

We don’t have to turn atheist to learn from Charles Darwin’s “survival of the fittest”. To say that we are programmed at birth to be selfish is to realize that whatever good we do to others is commensurate with their usefulness to us. We don’t feed others to the point of starving ourselves. There is no absolute altruism, defined as “unselfish concern for other people’s happiness and welfare.”

If we choose to receive the best of whatever from our friends and relatives, it could lead to frustration and despair.

Accepting human nature as it really is makes us focus on actions that also create value for others.

People do not easily shed off ingrained habits and beliefs. To be honest with ourselves, we Christians may find ourselves scoffing at the Hindus who worship the elephant god Ganesh and venerate the “holy cow”.

Conversely, the Hindus could not be forced to worship Jesus Christ unless intervening circumstances converge to effect a conversion.

I remember having written an article critical of Roman Catholic beliefs, only to be flooded with acidic adjectives from Catholic readers who predicted I would go to hell. It reminded me of a nugget from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

It is therefore wise to select business associates, friends, and spouses on the basis of common values. Incompatibility forebodes trouble. For instance, a marriage between a rabid Catholic and a rabid Protestant may trigger frequent arguments, ending in a broken home. It’s a perfect mismatch.

We become hypocritical when we pretend to “adjust” to people with ideas and beliefs contrary to ours.

To quote Robert Ringer once more, “All people, at one time or another, deviate from their moral beliefs; they are sometimes hypocritical. More often than not, the cause is the desire for instant gratification.”

Gratification, however, does not rest on accumulating money.  To quote the late American inspirational author Wayne Dyer, “When I chased money, I never had enough. When I got my life on purpose and focused on giving of myself and everything that arrived into my life, then I was prosperous.”



BECAUSE of too many Covid-dead bodies being brought to Gegato-Abecia Funeral Homes, it is no longer accepting cadavers from outside Iloilo City for cremation.

The only crematorium in the city and in the whole Panay Island, it has “overheated” with as many as 30 cremations a day. The management has therefore limited its services to residents of Iloilo City.

This prompted Mayor Jerry Treñas to seek the help of MORE Power to boost the energy load of the crematorium to enable it to burn as many as 80 cadavers a day as soon as possible.

The city government, the mayor told us, has already contributed millions of pesos for cremation of the poor Covid fatalities.

Did we hear right that Gegato-Abecia charges P80,000 for each cremated body?

OMG, it makes us wonder whether, in life, some of those souls had even momentarily laid hands on that amount.