James Kirkup

Start Free Trial

Are all the people emotional like us', refer to the poem no men are foriegn by james kirkup

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
The fundamental issue here is whether or not one accepts the collective identity that Kirkup is advocating in his poem. If one does buy it, then yes, there is an emotional component to all people. As the previous post indicates, what might trigger it could vary from person to person, but all of us would contain some level of emotional affect. There is another side that flat out rejects Kirkup's idealism in suggesting that some have foregone the right to be considered "like us" because they do not wish to be "like us." When suicide bombers seek to advocate their cause through force, they are not "like us." When Hitler and the Nazis obliterate millions, they are not "like us." Part of what makes this debate such a challenge is that it strikes at the fundamental view people have of the world and the inherent problems in each viewpoint. If there is a belief that commonality can transcend differences, then Kirkup is absolutely right. No countries can be deemed strange and nothing else foreign. The problem, of course, is that if nothing is different from us, then we are unable to pass judgments on behaviors because it's all relative and "since we are the same, I guess I would do the same in their position." The other side of this coin reflects that if there is a belief that there are distinct differences, this can lead to demonizing other nations and other peoples. One does not have to go very far to find the detrimental examples of this practice, either. Kirkup's poem in its simplicity raises these issues to the surface for discourse and analysis.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Personally, I do not believe that all people are "emotional like us."  At least, I do not believe that the same things do not make all people feel the same emotions.  I do believe that all people have the same emotions that they can feel, but I do not believe that the same stimuli make us feel these emotions.

However, Kirkup argues that we do share the same emotions.  He says that all people in all lands have a "common life" that everyone can understand.  He says that people's hands all show a "labour not different from our own."  He says that all people have strength that can be "won by love."

None of these is actually saying "all people have the same emotions," but I think that together these lines imply that we do.  He is suggesting that people in all places are essentially the same -- that they are affected by their work and their emotions in the same way.  This is why they all have a common life.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team