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18 Mar 14 12:35

The insurance industry rightly takes every opportunity to tell the story of connectivity, of how an event in one part of the world can have untold consequences for people living hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of miles away. Examples that spring to mind immediately are the melting arctic ice and the resulting rise in sea levels, the 2010 volcanic dust cloud in Iceland and Japan's Tohoku earthquake / tsunami in 2011.

And we at Swiss Re give this narrative an additional dimension when we point out how the decisions made by the post-war generations will affect the lives of those born after 1990. Just one of many examples here is the urgent need to overhaul today's education and immigration policies so that tomorrow's young people will have jobs to go to. So our world is doubly connected, both geographically and also across generations. This underlying truth was given poignant expression almost 400 years ago by the poet and philosopher, John Donne. In 1624, he wrote the following words:

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.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
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.

John Donne, it appears, was way ahead of his time. And not only that, he instilled a moral, caring element into his thoughts about global  interdependence, something which is sadly lacking in the messages you hear today.


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