It was many years ago, when I was a teenager that I first heard the phrase “No Man Is An Island”, but at the time it had no significance to me. I guess that in my young and inexperienced mind I just assumed that it meant that life would be boring alone on an island or it would be too much work to build an island without any help. As immature as those assumptions may have been, they were to some degree true.

With age, experience, and maturity I have come to realise that the phrase is much deeper than just avoiding boredom and not wanting to do ‘work’ without assistance. It is about inter-dependence and recognising that our survival, development, and wellbeing depends on being part of a community.

The dictionary defines COMMUNITY as “A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common”, or ”The condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interest in common”.

Both definitions include the word ‘common’, and if we look closely at the word ‘community’ we can also see the word ‘UNITY’.

We are all unique individuals having a unique life experience but we all have one thing in common – A HEART! I would therefore like to offer up my definition of community – “A Community is a Place where there is a Uniting of Hearts”. It is a place where we contribute and where others contribute to us. It is a place of safety.

What a beautiful concept!

My community starts from home – My Family! Then I have my local neighbourhood, then my associates at work, my church, my health club, London, Nigeria, India, Spain, and I could go on. Wherever I am is my community. Why limit myself to those who share my interests or have the same beliefs or are from the same place, when I can live a full life. I love to contribute and be a part of people, and it really brings me joy.

The pandemic has taught us a hard lesson about being with people, and the impact that isolation and separation can have on our mental and physical health. We need each other and we need to contribute to others. It is crucial to our survival and progress.

Dogs are always referred to as man’s best friend. Why? Because they are loyal and love their families unconditionally. They show their love without shame or embarrassment and would protect their loved ones at any cost. Why are dogs like this? It is because they know and appreciate that they need humans to survive.

We could learn a lot from dogs. We, as people, also need humans to survive but for some reason we don’t seem to recognise or appreciate this, at least not as much as we should. It is evident in the way we behave. Stigmatising others or being in competition are classic examples of how we are with each other. How can people in our communities thrive if they have to hide for fear of what we may say or do?

We need to think about our individual responsibilities and the roles that we play in our communities. If we are not contributing in a positive way or being supportive, we may need to check ourselves.

Like Martin Luther King, I have a dream!

My dream is to live in a world where Man is Man’s best friend, not a Dog.