The Island

| February 6, 2014

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Welcome to your first Boarding Pass in this course. Boarding passes are designed to give your instructor the opportunity to do some diagnostic assessment of your work. Remember, all boarding passes are marked out of 50. This first boarding pass will be a 5 paragraph essay. It is important for an instructor to get an early indication of how you process information, analyze it, and produce written work. This is an opportunity for you to impress an instructor with your abilities, and perhaps more importantly, an opportunity for your instructor to give you early feedback and pointers on what level of work is expected in the course. Take this opportunity seriously, and submit your best work. In the first lesson for Unit One (The Island), two polar opposite views on individuals living in a society are given. One, in Simon & Garfunkel’s song I am a Rock, says this: I am a rock, I am an island. I have my books And my poetry to protect me; I am shielded in my armor, Hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries. The second perspective comes from John Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. He writes: 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…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind… ***Write a five paragraph essay arguing that individuals survive best in society as islands or as part of the continent. Use a theoretical perspective from one of the following disciplines to support your argument: Anthropology Sociology Psychology Current newspaper articles, statistical data, case studies, a world event, will help to substantiate your thesis. For example, my thesis might be: No man is an island, but rather a piece of the continent. Hurricane Katrina (New Orleans, 2005) proved that without one another, individuals, families and communities simply cannot survive. I could support this argument from a structural functionalism perspective (sociology) or a humanistic psychology perspective (psychology). For definitions of theoretic terms, and for specific details of how to write an essay, see the course outline. Please contact me by email if you have alternative ideas for the paper. Remember, a five paragraph essay will have an introductory paragraph (where the thesis appears), three supporting paragraphs (where each beginning sentence further supports the original thesis) and a concluding paragraph which reinforces the thesis, ties up all the major points of the paper and then leaves the reader with something intriguing to think about. This introductory paper is deliberately short. It is also deliberately guided, in that the general thesis scope has been given to you. This was done so that I can see how well you can control an essay (keeping it within the confines of five paragraphs) and how effectively you can make every sentence count. Length: There is no set word count for this assignment, except a strict five paragraph limit. (A typical paragraph should be 7-9 sentences long). This is the introduction of the chapter for my order It is said that we come into the world alone, and we leave alone—the question is, what do we do with the days between the coming and the going? No life is ever easy, and no one comes through this life unscathed. We, as human beings, are social creatures. We need each other, and beneath that reality lies the truth that if you must depend on others, at some point (okay, many points) you will get hurt. A partner will leave you, a friend will deceive you, a parent will thwart your attempts at freedom, a child will demand your attention, a boss will squeeze too many hours out of your day—and so it goes. On a more upbeat note, when we let people in, we experience the connections, the friendships, and the love that can bring joy to our existence. A partner buys you an unexpected gift, your boss recognizes your good work with a promotion, a friend offers a shoulder to cry on during a difficult day with your new boss. As we progress through life’s stages, gaining the independence to navigate life’s journey alone, we have the power to decide: Who gets to take this journey with me? Who do I let in? Who do I keep out? Which leads all human beings to fall somewhere on the spectrum between living life as an island or joining the continent. Consider the words of Simon & Garfunkel: I Am a Rock A winter’s day In a deep and dark December; I am alone, Gazing from my window to the streets below On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. I am a rock. I am an island. I’ve built walls, A fortress deep and mighty, That none may penetrate. I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain. It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain. I am a rock. I am an island. Don’t talk of love, Well, I’ve heard the word before. It’s sleeping in my memory. I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died. If i never loved I never would have cried. I am a rock. I am an island. I have my books And my poetry to protect me; I am shielded in my armor, Hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock. I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries. Source: Simon and Garfunkel, I Am a Rock, 1968 In contrast to the words of Simon & Garfunkel, John Donne affirms that no singular man (or woman) can exist on his or her own, cut off from the rest of society. In Donne’s opinion, there are no human islands. He writes: 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…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…. Source: Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, Meditations XVII Consider This… 1. How does the metaphor of a person as ‘ an island’ or a person as a ‘piece of continent’ fit in with your own views about individuals in society? 2. Does an individual thrive in this world by becoming more and more independent of others, functioning without the assistance of others? 3. Or, does society work best when individuals make connections, admit their dependency and stand united rather than divided as they move through this life?
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