For the last twenty years, Hollywood’s cliché has been that everybody’s somehow connected to the actor Kevin Bacon. Tracing the six or fewer degrees between community nodes like Bacon and other community members can be a fun way to prove that Disney was right: It’s a small world, after all.
I’m two degrees removed from the US Senate chaplain who, at the inaugural luncheon last week, prayed for the president’s success at his “God-appointed duties.”
I’m one degree removed from one of the drafters of the reauthorized PATRIOT and FREEDOM Acts (the FREEDOM Act, Congress’ attempt at a do-over after Snowden, limited the government’s automatic access to US consumers’ phone records but allows the government to access records from our telecom companies with prior judicial approval).
And not only is my social network full of people directly and indirectly affected by Friday’s executive order on immigration, but I also discovered tonight that I know at least one of the House of Representatives staffers who signed non-disclosure agreements with the current administration to help write it.
That’s the tightness of human relationship in a world of 7.89 billion.1 We are never far from each other.
They, whomever they are, are always closer than we imagine: the queer Muslim niece, the limited government staffer who wants to be loyal to their party, the pastor praying, as he’s described it, like a lamb among wolves.
There are times, like this week, when I’d rather deny my proximity to those a few degrees across community nodes from me. But that’s not possible, nor wise.
I hope that confronting this reality again tonight will make me more conscious about how I talk about the people who are Other to me, different from me, vastly unlike me by circumstance or by practice. And I hope that, somehow, some of them—especially the ones writing executive orders this winter—will remember too: we’re just degrees removed, not different in kind.