Yesterday, on the anniversary of 9/11, I once again wondered how many degrees of separation exist between me and the victims of that tragic day. I even considered posting an query on the social networks just to see if there were any connections.
I didn’t. I figured it would be a morose and undignified way to mark the anniversary.
Today, I awoke to the news of the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Four people died there. One of them was Sean Smith.
I didn’t know Smith. I’m not a gamer, either, so I didn’t know him by his gamer alias, Vile Rat. Yet several mutual friends of mine did know him, some in meat space, and others played so many hours of online games with him that they may as well have known him in the flesh.
I discovered this today, when said friends posted about it. And thus I received an answer to my 9/11 question: I am connected to the larger world, of course, but in ways I didn’t previously imagine. I rarely picture it at all until something occurs to make lines of Indra’s Net visible.
Our worlds are small when seen up close and yet reach into expanses beyond our wildest dreams. As such, the victims and families of 9/11, the Aurora theater shooting, yesterday’s events in Benghazi, and the massacre in Oslo affect me; not because of how close the connection is to me personally, but because the dew drop on the net shakes those around it, which shake those around it, ad infinitum.
It’s only through ignorance that anyone remains untouched by the world around them.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
~ John Donne