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  • Reverend James Squire

It’s A Small World After All

Have you ever wondered about how once you have experienced something or made a purchase you begin seeing those experiences or purchases all around you when they weren’t seen before? They were always there, but now you are noticing them. They are on the landscape of our mind, psyche, and soul.

There are some obvious examples. One of the moments of embarrassment for women is when they attend a function such as a gala and another woman arrives with the same dress.

You buy a car and all of a sudden you begin seeing that same kind of car being driven in many different places. You have a medical diagnosis. You discover that others have the same medical problem. Is this an example of great minds think alike? No, I think that it is the power of what is already there in our lives to be discovered through a desire to connect to one another. We are all aware that the world seems to get smaller and smaller through our contacts. The tune of “It’s a small world after all!” is heard deep within our being. We use the term global village to describe the world.

We meet someone and may experience that surprising notion that “we both know the same person” when there doesn’t seem to be any reason that would be so. Perhaps the greatest example of this is found in the cultural phenomenon of Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon. This phenomenon was started by a group of Albright College students who were watching “Footloose” in their dorm room. This game’s theory was that only six or less connections existed between Kevin Bacon to linking anyone in Hollywood to this actor by their roles in six film titles or less. It became a game in popular culture.

This idea that started as a college game in a dorm room at Albright College was picked up by scientists to see if there were these six degrees connections among regular people with one another. In a 1969 study Stanley Milgram and Jeffrey Travers asked a few hundred people in Nebraska and Boston to send a letter through acquaintances to a Boston stockbroker. 64 letters reached the stock broker. Of those letters that were received as letter chains that were complete. The average number of degrees of separation was 6.2.

Gardner Morse supported this conclusion in an article entitled, “The Science Behind Six Degrees”, in The Harvard Business Review originally published in Time Magazine 2003.

“If this small-world hypothesis is correct, it has important implications for the nature of social networks. But Milgram’s actual results were far less conclusive than most people realize. So my colleagues and I are conducting an internet experiment to try to settle the matter. We now have over 50,000 message chains originating in 163 countries in search of 18 targets around the world. The preliminary picture is more complicated than Milgram realized, but it looks like his main finding of six degrees is in the ballpark. Until recently, it’s been hard to study this small world problem because we lacked computing power.”

I don’t see it as a problem. I see it as an amazing possibility. The Pandemic has pointed this possibility out in a graphic manner in terms of our responsibility of caring for those in third world countries. We have a moral small world mandate to assist those countries. We have a pragmatic mandate as well that if one person in one third world country has the Covid-19 disease, we all can possibly get it. That is the reality that we learned during the AIDS crisis. We rise or fall as one.

I trust that the Biden Administration will rise to acknowledge that we are one whether it be climate change, the Pandemic, or the return to the world political stage. It is a small world and we are brothers and sisters in it. We need to start acting like that.

What about the small world that includes other races? One of the truths is that race is a social construct. Our racial differences are determined by .1 percent of our genetic make up as discovered in research on the human genome. We have made the racial differences. God didn’t make them when he made us.

In the Daedalus Journal, James Franklin Crow, wrote an article entitled “Unequal by nature: a geneticist’s perspective on human differences.” “In February of 2001, Craig Ventnor, president of Celera Genomics, commenting on the near completion of the of the human genome project, said that ‘we are all essentially identical twins.’ Based on examination of our DNA, any two human beings are 99.9 percent identical. The genetic differences between different groups of human beings are similarly minute.”

When we feel that sense of that strong connection to all others and realize just how small our world is, we will call it another name. We will call it the Promised Land. Those connections are always there. We just need to see them better like we see that new car we purchased just like the ones we see when we take our new car out for a drive. We see the ones we didn’t see before because we are now “tuned in”. Let’s get tuned in at the global level.

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