Monday, August 1, 2016

The Islands We Build

Built Island
I was out and about yesterday and I sat at the bank of a man made lake in the upper middle class suburbs of Chicago. In the center of this small man made lake is a man made island. The whole thing felt a little weird to me. I mean, it was very scenic and beautiful. But why a man made lake and why an island?

It did get me thinking about the islands we build in our lives. Poet John Donne reminded us that no one is an island entire of itself, but a piece of the continent, part of the main. (John Donne also wrote some really amazing erotic poetry too, but I digress.) We fabricate these artificial places where we can be removed and isolated from others. We may try to pretty it up a bit and make it look natural. The truth is, however, that it is not natural a life apart from others. We are tribal creatures who thrive on community, friendships, comrades and intimacy. 

The island we make of ourselves may have some pretty exterior shows and we may think we have made beauty and a space we can not be harmed or harm others, but that is not always the case. 

There is a man made island in Singapore. The preparation of an artificial island often requires a lot of sand. Over 5 tons of sand was dredged to create the island and it came at a cost of the delicate ecosystem. The effect of this dredging was effectively desertification of a small fishing village. This pollution created economic hardship and damaged the environment and had a domino affect of the balance of marine nature. All of this occurred so one man could have space to himself and build a home away from the masses. 

When we build our own islands of isolation, there will be an effect. There is always an effect when we create something that is unnatural, even when it looks natural and even have manicured beauty, it may have come at a cost to others. We may set a horrible example to our children as to how to live. We may not be there for someone who needs us. We may miss that magical moment where everything was about to change, and to be alone, we may dredge up things that will harm others. 

The islands we build can come at a cost. 

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