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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 any manner of thy friends 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

Did you know that political scientists call Holocaust rescuers -- that singular group of people who risked their lives and wellbeing to save others -- "John Donne's people"? This is based on the famous poem, above --- "Each man's death diminishes me,/For I am involved in mankind."

It's a beautiful appellation for an extraordinary group of people, but I wonder if even it goes far enough. Holocaust rescuers didn't just involve themselves in mankind -- they risked everything for it (including the lives of their children, which is the piece that stops me in my tracks.). I've been reading a lot about rescuers lately, and their courage seems impossible.

Yet apparently it isn't. The book "Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust," by Eva Fogelman, is filled with stories of John Donne's people.

What would it take to be one of them?

Have you ever witnessed this level of courage?

Do you know anyone you believe capable of it?

About the Author

Susan Cain

Susan Cain is the author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking and the co-founder of Quiet Revolution, a startup that aims to help businesses manage their introverted employees.

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