The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Six degrees of separation

They say that the world is becoming ever smaller.

Geographically, of course, this is ridiculous -- and thus this concept cannot enter the radar of a literalist. Even if it no longer takes 79 days to bridge them, the world has exactly the same number of kilometres as ever it had.

Then again, we never really measured separation in distance.

We all know people who came to live among us from afar, or who moved away, or from whom we moved away: but among most of us reading this, for some decades now we have had the luxury and the privilege of knowing the voices and words of those particularly dear to us would be only a telephone call or an e-mail away. The other side of the globe has now become an airplane trip of a few short hours, even a casual vacation destination. A chasm of a lifetime has now become a space of half a second, barely noticeable time delay required for the signal to bounce to the satellite and back. Our social networks now cast their nets more widely than at any previous time in our history as human beings.

Since you are reading this, for you the world has become a little smaller still: for at least one of the persons who has listed me as "friend" has family in a small country bordering on the Indian Ocean, just a little north of where an earthquake struck two days ago, one year to the day after the earthquake at Bam. Perhaps you, or someone you know, also have friends or family in that part of the world.

There is no longer any catastrophe which does not touch each and every one of us. The global has become the personal.

If you wish to give:

International Red Cross
Gives links to your local Red Cross or Red Crescent society: includes a database to try to obtain news of family members.

Doctors Without Borders
If the site is not immediately accessible due to heavy demand, try googling for your local chapter.


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