Thursday, March 4, 2010

Zero Degrees of Separation

Remember the movie Six Degrees of Separation? The premise is that any person is separated from anyone else on Earth by no more than six degrees. That is, if you are one step away from everyone you know, and two steps away from everyone they know, it will take at most six steps to connect you to anyone on the planet. My personal theory is that if you grew up in Memphis, like I did, you are separated by no more than two degrees from Elvis.

But here is a more important theory that I learned from A Course in Miracles. Any separation from any other person is a separation from God. (When I say God I mean God in whatever sense is meaningful to you.) How do we separate ourselves from people? By judging, criticizing, hating, fearing, labeling, dismissing, stereotyping, condemning. By seeing them as “other.”

So ponder that for a moment. Every time you separate yourself from another person, you are separating yourself from God. Every time. Very hard to live in your happy place if you are separated from God. On the other hand, it is very hard not to see as separate that person who was really rude in the checkout line at the grocery store. Or the homeless person reeking of booze asking you for money. Or the CEO of a bailed out company pocketing a gazillion dollar bonus. Or your ex.

Yet many faiths and psychological theories stand firm on the foundation that our ticket to our happy place is our connection with others. Which brings us to the good news. Every time we open our hearts and connect with another person, we connect to God. Every time. So that gives me pause, at least occasionally, when I am poised to cast that first stone. Is it worth separating myself from God? Is it really?

As Pogo said, “We have seen the enemy and he is us.” There is no them. There is only us. Namaste.

(By the way, the six degrees idea inspired a game, Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon, which became sort of a catch phrase for the six-degrees-it’s-a-small-world-after-all concept. The real Kevin Bacon created a website in conjunction with Network for Good at to help people support their favorite charities.)


  1. Love this and your authenticity about how easy it is to judge others and see ourselves as better or different. We need to embrace everyone. Why is this easy to understand intellectually, but so difficult to act on with our hearts and souls? -- Elizabeth

  2. When we separate ourselves from others, we cut off opportunities for a closer relationship with God. So to answer your question, no, it's never worth it to separate ourselves from God. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here; good food for thought and prayer.


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