Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It’s a small world after all

September 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured Posts, Love

One Sunday a few years ago, my friends Brian and Guila attended mass in Vancouver. The priest, a Canadian, related a story of participating in a visioning exercise for a school in Jamaica. Brian and Guila looked at each other and simultaneously mouthed “Marguerite”. Sure enough, the priest who was visiting from his diocese in Toronto had been part of a strategic planning retreat I facilitated in 2006 for the school of which he was the Chairman. Who would have thought that the very day my friends decided to attend mass at that church (not their usual place of worship), this priest would be visiting and decide to relate this particular story? It’s a small world. My cousin Marion married Dennis 30 years ago. She was born and grew up in New York. Dennis, also of Jamaican heritage, grew up in Detroit. Earlier this year, it surfaced from my friend Doug whose family has lived in Windsor, Ontario for 8 generations, that his aunt was married to Dennis’ uncle! Who would ever have thought? It’s a really small world.

Ann, a fellow student in my Creative Writing class, declared that I MUST meet Roberta, her friend from Jamaica. We three met for coffee one afternoon where Roberta and I shared experiences and memories of our beloved homeland. Fast-forward to two weeks ago when Geri, a member of my running group, mentioned that she had met a neighbour who is from Jamaica. Bobby has lived in her neighbourhood for 30 years, yet they had never met. Last Saturday, as we enjoyed post-run coffee in her front yard, up strolls Bobby! Of course, we are introduced and start yapping away. Somehow, it emerged during our conversation that Bobby is Roberta’s father! Who would have thought? It’s a really, really small world.

We all have stories of these unlikely links with others far removed from our circle that remind us how connected we are with the 6 billion other people on this planet. In 1929, Frigyes Karinthy theorized that everyone is separated by 6 or fewer steps from anyone else in the entire world. “Six Degrees of Separation”, the phrase he coined, has become a fun party game to prove this – think of someon you might most like to meet and then figure out the chain of people that would lead you to be introduced. I have never got to 6 steps – it’s always less.

As I observe the crisis with the refugees in the Mediterranean, view with great sadness the body of the darling little Syrian boy washed up on the shore, consider the fate of Dominicans of Haitian heritage being deported to Haiti, and so many other instances of suffering, inhumanity and lack of compassion in our world, it occurs to me that I am a mere six or fewer degrees of separation from then all. Most of us would not hesitate to help our friends and neighbours in dire circumstances. Can we see that all people in the world, no matter the physical distance that separates us, are closer than we think? Can we therefore bring it into our hearts to help, in whatever way possible? How can we do this when the problems are so massive and complex? Here are a few things we can do to make a positive difference:

  • View the situation with compassion. Too many of us are rooted in fear (we don’t want them in our society) rather than identifying with their plight, which some of our ancestors may have experienced not that long ago
  • Become informed. Rather than relying on sound bites and memes, read as much as we can from varied sources to understand the history of the situations. They are highly complex, and lead us, or me at any rate, to stop blaming one side or the other.
  • Cease adding to the negativity – be careful of what we post on social media and what we speak in our conversations. Try to defuse negative comments by bringing light and a different perspective.
  • Take a stand. Online petitions abound – sign them. With a click, we can send a message to world leaders to take action. It’s easy. Does it help? I don’t know, but can it harm?
  • Contribute financially – make donations to organizations working in the field to help those in crisis. No amount is too small.
  • Extend a loving welcoming hand should any of these people arrive in your community.

As I think about my brothers and sisters across the world who are in dire need, separated from me by only 6 contacts, I remember that sweet little Disney song “It’s a Small World”:

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears
There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small, small world
There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It’s a small world after all

Read more: Disney – It’s A Small World Lyrics | MetroLyrics


2 Responses to “It’s a small world after all”
  1. Guila says:

    Can you believe that mass in Vancouver took place about six years ago?!
    That “coincidence” never ceases to amaze me.
    We really are all connected.
    It’s a small, small world indeed!
    Thanks for continuing to share your light.

  2. Marguerite Orane says:

    And the world turns Guila. That “coincidence” never ceases to amaze me too. So many things just came together in that moment. THanks for sharing it with me.