Keeping in mind James Kirkup's poem 'No Men are Foreign' , What is the Need for the Hour in Todays Nuclear World?Keeping in mind James Kirkup's poem 'No Men are Foreign' , What is the Need for...

Keeping in mind James Kirkup's poem 'No Men are Foreign' , What is the Need for the Hour in Todays Nuclear World?

Keeping in mind James Kirkup's poem 'No Men are Foreign' ,

What is the Need for the Hour in Todays Nuclear World?

Asked on by adrianpee

3 Answers | Add Yours

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

When I read this poem I'm reminded of John Donne's "Meditation XVII."  The world is interconnected in more ways than it ever has been before.  We can see and hear and do business across the world instantaneously, and the relative ease of travel and communication has helped all cultures intermingle in ways that were never possible before.  What happens in one place has ripple effects in another, and we must recognize our interdependence.  John Donne said it this way:

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.... No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

In death and in life--and especially in the looming shadow of nuclear weapons--the need for the hour is recognizing that we're more alike than different, and we're all of one race...the human race. 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I assume that when you say "need of the hour" you mean the thing that is most important in the world today.  If that is the meaning, my answer is that what we need most is understanding and good will between people.  This is more important than ever given that we have nuclear weapons that can kill millions of people very easily.

This idea is reflected in Kirkup's poem.  He is making a plea for all people to see that they are similar to one another.  It would be a call, for example, for people in Pakistan and India to realize that they share hopes and fears and are, essentially, the same.  The hope is that, if they realize this, they will not want to attack each other, possibly with nuclear weapons.

In today's world with our ability to kill one another so efficiently, it is very important to (as Kirkup hopes we will) recognize our common humanity so we will not want to kill one another.

lit24's profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The need of the hour today is to immediately and categorically put an end to the manufacture and testing of all nuclear weapons. One Hiroshima is enough. Whatever nuclear weapons there are must be carefully dismantled and disposed of safely without harming mankind and the environment.

James Kirkup's poem "No Men are Foreign" underscores the importance of universal world peace.  The moral of the poem is that human beings all over the world, no matter what their nationality, color, race or creed, are essentially the same:

In every land is common lifeThat all can recognize and understand

Hence, no one is a stranger or a foreigner. When we go to war with another country we are not fighting against foreigners but we are actually destroying ourselves:

whenever we are told

To hate our brothers, it is ourselves

That we shall dispossess, betray, condemn.

Similarly war, especially nuclear war destroys the earth which is the common property of all human kind:

It is the human earth that we defile,

Our hells of fire and dust outrage the innocence

Of air that is everywhere our own.

James Kirkup practised what he preached. At the time of World War II he was a 'conscious objector' who did not join the army.


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