In 1623, as the bubonic plague swept Europe and killed 30-60% of the continent’s population, John Donne wrote
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: 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 (95).
While Donne’s Meditation XVII is a moving tribute to the importance of the community, other authors, also grappling with the role of community, have rejected Donne’s assertion (Emerson, Camus, Friedman). Camus for instance sketches the human being as doomed to suffering and certain death. He argues that our conscious, reasoning mind recognizes the absurdity of our situation and the irrationality of our existence. Camus does however conclude that recognizing the absurdity of our situation frees us to live for the pleasure and beauty of today. He concludes “One must imagine Sisyphus happy (241)” because he can live for the pleasure of the moment, with no thought to the future.
As you examine what is happening in the world around you with COVID-19 and our response to it, consider the differing perspectives our authors have taken about the role of community. What philosophy of community underlies your response, your family or friends responses, or your country’s response to the COVID-19 virus? What might the impacts and implications of such an outlook be?
Write a paper in which you argue the merits and drawbacks of one of the above-mentioned perspectives as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Incorporate your observations and any necessary outside data into your response. Include two readings from the HMXP reader.
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