Scanning the internet headlines this morning, I came upon two articles from The Washington Post in quick succession, and wanted to bring them together in this post.
The first I read, out of sheer silliness (having played the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game myself), was this, from MSNBC: “Microsoft study confirms ‘Kevin Bacon’ theory.” The gist of the article by Peter Whoriskey is that,
With records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people from around the world, researchers have concluded that any two people on average are distanced by just 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances. [2 August 2008]
The second article, linked to the first, was “Rampage Attributed to Hatred of Liberalism.”
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., July 28 — An out-of-work truck driver accused of opening fire and killing two people at a Unitarian Universalist church apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its support of liberal social policies, including its acceptance of gays, police said Monday. [Mansfield. Associated Press. 29 July 2008]
I wanted simply to juxtapose these articles by putting them together in one place and present one thought: the man who committed this atrocity was not nearly so separate from the people he shot as he might have assumed.
That the shootings took place in a church his wife once attended suggests that his connection to the people he injured and killed is probably even closer than six or seven degrees. You can hate a “movement,” or even simply distrust it, as Wendell Berry did, but the movement is not the people.
The people are your neighbors, your community–you are connected to them no matter where they live, or what church they attend, or what movement you subscribe them to.