Friday, May 5, 2006
6 degrees of separation & a Thought
Last night, RB, a friend of his, and I went to an opening for a photo exhibit of Thailand after the Tsunami. The pictures were taken by RB's co-worker Maggie, while she was visiting there on a trip shortly after the disaster. Maggie had gone with her friend Lisa to the devastated region and both returned with pictures and decided to do an exhibit with the proceeds going to the Tsunami Relief Fund.
I decided to call my best friend Anne-Marie (aka Babycakes) to see what she was doing and if she wanted to go. It turns out that her colleague was Maggie's cousin and they were all heading there together to support her. We laughed at the irony of it all and how people were connected. When I got to the cafe where the exhibit was taking place, a familiar voice called out my name. I turned and there was my co-worker standing in the doorway. It seems his fiance is the cousin of Lisa and they too were there to support.
All of this got me thinking about the Six Degrees of Separation Theory proposed by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929. The theory is that everyone on the planet is somehow connected to another person on the planet through a chain of no-more than 4 other acquaintances. The idea that we are all connected in some way, gives me comfort and makes me feel closer to each person I know. It also makes me wonder why there is so much hatred, bitterness and strife in this world. If we are all connected, are not each of us brothers and sisters? I know the thought is rather juvenile and I realise that the politics of the world can't be reduced to such simplicity. But what if they were? Imagine what we could do or accomplish if we all thought of each other as a connected network of family and friends.
Imagine no more hate, pain, famine or war.
The beauty of it all seems so clear in my mind, but I realise that I am a dreamer and that the reality of life on this planet is far more complicated than this one theory. But I still have hope that things will change and that possibly you or I can illicit change through our network of connections.
So, with this in mind, I proposition you all on a project that I have been ruminating upon. To some, the idea may seem rather foolish or bizarre, but I believe there is something in this idea that can potentially make a change, be it in society, yourself, or the World.
There is a need for change. A need for compassion and understanding in our World, that I think we have forgotten about. Our lives have become so complex and frenetic, what with our jobs, families, social lives and own personal issues, that we have lost sight of the other role we play as members of a Global community. My belief is that through action we can often discover something beautiful in ourselves and others, and that it will plant a seed for change. I believe that every person in this world is connected in some way, and that a single action of good can start a wave that will continue and travel across the globe. Just imagine the following scenario, which I recently experienced:
You are walking down the street. The ominous clouds indicate imminent rain and everyone is rushing about, focused on their own worries and destinations. Then, out of the blue, your briefwork bag breaks and the contents spread across the sidewalk, the wind carrying many of your work papers across the street. You stop, curse and can’t believe your day is going to shit, when a stranger begins to pick your papers up in front of you and out of the gutter. Another person sees that person, realises what is happening and also begins to help. Soon people across the street are running about and into the street to assist. You are dumbfounded, but also immensely grateful to these strangers. Soon, all is recovered. Everyone smiles and your Thanks are noted and everyone carries on with their day.
You, continue to work, smiling despite having your papers in disarray. You are thankful and feel a bit of warmth that others were so kind. The strangers in turn, walk away with a slight spring to their step. They too realise that they have done something kind and that it may have helped this stranger. No names, numbers or words were exchanged, yet everyone feels the same warmth, the same sense of community. These people continue this sense of well-being through the day, and it is infectious and without realising it, they have affected hundreds of people indirectly, through one single act of kindness.
I suppose, none of this is all that new. People always talk about doing good things, and many people do. As I mentioned, I have a project in mind that I have been working on for a year or more that I hope will come to fruition. All of my recent experiences have indicated that I need to do more with my life and that I need to give back. I've never been one to believe in destiny, but I am beginning to wonder if everything that is or has happened to me has some reason. I hate getting all spiritual and philosophical about it, but just stay tuned, as I may need your advice, help or hand.
P.S. I realise that this post is the epitomy of tangential thinking, but my thought process tends to run like a train wreck, from one thing to the other until I actually find some valuable lesson from my experiences.