There was a time when I was young and idealistic that I thought one could live and let live. Do your own thing, live the way you wanted to live and let the world go by on the sidelines. Unfortunately I learned it can’t be done.

John Donne had it right, “No man is an island, entire of itself. Each 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 manner of thine own or of thine friend’s were. Every man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. And therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.”

What my neighbor does, what a stranger does when near me, what a government decides to make a law, those things all affect me. I can’t ignore the influence on my life that others cause.


I think of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and think of the consequences that decision has made. Deaths and poisonings of young children from marijuana candy, more traffic arrests due to those under the influence of a drug, more resources on water and land to grow a crop that has adverse affects on people and the possibility of loss of life or property damage from those under the influence. I would not want to meet someone on the road whose judgment is impaired by a drug. But that decision by lawmakers surely put the lives of Coloradoans under greater risk.

The decision by someone here in our state to drive while under the influence of alcohol, or someone not paying attention to the road while texting or talking on the phone puts others lives at risk. We see it all too often. Drunk drivers who are second offenders should be treated more harshly than they are and it should be more consistent.

My garden may be organic but neighbors who spray when it is too windy or are careless when applying chemicals can have an affect on my plants as well. I find it very discouraging to see trees I have planted show signs of chemical damage knowing that the stress, plus other stresses that occur naturally, such as a dry year, may kill the tree.

Plus the damage it causes to beneficial insects and birds has not been completely documented. All one has to read is Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” to know the problem is ongoing and has not changed much since Carson wrote her book.

We agonize over the shootings in schools overcome by grief that such things happen. Are we forgetting that people are influenced by what they see. Both video games and television shows show graphic images that give youth an unreal picture of our world.

George Gerbner, (1919-2005) former dean of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, has estimated that the average American child will have watched 8,000 murders on television by the age of twelve. I don’t know about you, but this is certainly not reality.

Leonard Eron, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, did a study of some third-graders in a semi-rural area of New York. Those who watched violent television programming were more aggressive and that tendency stayed with them as they became older They were more likely to get in trouble with the law and were convicted of serious crimes at later ages. He has estimated that 10 percent of violence in the United States can be credited to television.

Watch any cartoon and there is violence there as well. We may think these cartoons are funny but it can influence a young child’s behavior. In 1965 a study of cartoons compared the behaviors of four-year-olds who watched a Woody Woodpecker cartoon containing violent incidents with that of others who watched “The Little Red Hen,” a cartoon that was nonviolent in nature. The children who watched the Woody Woodpecker cartoon were more likely to hit other children or break up toys and be more destructive during playtime. Can the effects of violent television not be seen?

How about our privacy? Now one’s activities are tracked by computers, cell phones and cameras or drones. If I search for some place or thing on the internet, chances are when I go to a website advertisements of those same things are seen. If you have satellite television I am sure they know what programming you regularly watch. Profiles are made of you and your activities over the internet. A bit scary it seems to me.

Although when Donne wrote those words he was thinking more along humanitarian lines, our interaction with others rather than a wider picture, it all fits together. And to stay sane I have to think along those lines as well. I can only control my activities and make good decisions that benefit my family and my community.

Hopefully, if we all try to make good decisions, that benefit will grow and make our nation a better place to live. One must not think that what we do really doesn’t matter in the whole of things, for it does. Every clod makes a difference, every grain of sand is important, every person and the good decision he or she makes is significant.

Being proactive praying for our churches, our community and nation, living a God-focused life, all make us part of the whole, a better whole. As Donne said, “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.”

———

Jeannine Roediger has lived on a family farm all her life, first as a farmer’s daughter and now as a farmer’s wife. She writes weekly for the Times Bulletin and enjoys gardening, quilting, cooking, bird watching and writing.