Have you ever heard it quoted that we are connected to nearly everyone on the planet by six degrees of separation? The idea is that you take any two people on earth, figure out who all their connections are, and before you’ve hit six people and the people in the resulting networks, you’ve probably found some way that you are connected to that person.
Try it–it’s fun! I even picked out people in “high” places, like former presidents, Prince Charles, and a pope–people that seem very far removed from my world, and I realized that even they are connected to me by no more than one or two points of separation. I bet the same is true for you, if you really think about everyone you’ve ever met and everyone they’ve ever met.
It’s not so much fun when you’re watching the news and you realize that the same holds true for world tragedies. As unlikely as it might seem for me to be connected personally to the lives lost a continent away in the Orlando massacre, I actually know someone who lost two friends in that tragedy. In the recent, devastating floods in West Virginia, my sister’s friend’s house on higher ground was saved, but the rest of the entire town where she lives has been destroyed. Another author I met at the London Book Fair in April knew the lawmaker who was murdered in Great Britain. An acquaintance’s husband was in the building at Seattle Pacific University during the shooting where a student’s life was lost, and my own daughter walked down the stairs just minutes before another girl did the same and was terribly wounded by the shooter.
My point is that we are all probably way more closely connected than we think. What happens “there” affects us “here.” With social media, all of us even have the power to say something to strangers anyplace where there’s an internet connection. I’m amazed when I see that someone from Somalia or the Philippines or India has read something on this blog, but it actually happens all the time–for anyone with a blog. You can believe that the knowledge of that makes me pause before I hit “Publish.”
Do we live as if we are close neighbors, connected to each other, or do we live as if we are strangers? When we speak, whether on Instagram or Twitter or overheard at the grocery store or on our cell phones, are we aware that those words can be quoted, tweeted or used to form impressions of us by people across the globe?
Governments may try to “build walls,” but the reality is that we are all probably a lot closer neighbors to each other than we may even know. Are we good neighbors?
Jesus once told an “expert in the law” that the Jewish law was summed up by saying that we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” When the expert asked “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by telling him a very famous story. You can read it in Luke 10:30-37. The bottom line? Anyone we show mercy to is our neighbor.
I pray that we will all be good neighbors, because who knows? We may have never met, but we might be just two degrees of separation away.
Image credit goes to Maryloudreidger2.wordpress.com.