Making the World a Smaller Place

It’s a small world after all. The words of the Disney song, “It’s a Small World, ” ring more true the older I get. Maybe, it’s because I have been fortunate enough to travel to other lands and feel at home when I am there. Maybe, it’s because my oldest son is attending a symphony concert with friends tonight, one of whom is from Kazakhstan, and the other Costa Rica.  My son’s friends are in the same graduate program as he. This is how they met and got to know each other.  This is how they became friends. It as if they went to the same high school, or sat in the same Intro to Psych class during the first year of college, or lived on the same floor in their freshman dorm. Whatever the reason, the paths of these three young men from different parts of the world have crossed.  They found enough common interests and human connection to be friends.

That’s all it takes folks! Put aside presumptions. Put aside differences in upbringing. Put aside geographical incongruities. Put aside religious and political differences. Put aside language barriers, if there are any. Put aside the predisposition to blame individuals for the world’s larger problems. Friends trust. Friends work together. Friends take you as you are, for you who you are, and don’t expect anything different. Friends care. Friends make an effort to connect.

Why are some people able to make the world a smaller place, and others cannot. I’m not sure.  But, I am sure that more of us should try. In talking with a couple last weekend that I had never met, we discussed moving to our metropolitan area in the upper mid-west within years of each other in the late 1990’s. Their daughter, in 10th grade at the time, asked the guidance counselor at the school where my youngest son now attends,  if they had any diversity at the school.  The guidance counselor’s response (a now long retired gentleman) coyly responded that the school’s diversity consisted of “country kids” and “city kids”……the “city” referred to a town of less than 3,000 people at the time.  He meant those who lived in the newly forming housing developments. Despite his attempt to make light of her question, she was savvy enough to realize the real answer. No, there was not much, if any, diversity. The couple elected to send their daughter to another high school. At the time they were stunned by her question, but proud all the same.

Just as I am proud that my son is not going to a Billy Joel concert at a large outdoor venue with people just like him. Instead, he is going to a symphony concert in a mid-sized city with friends who were born on foreign soil who have little in common except for the fact they are in the same graduate program. Yet, they have become friends. He’s going with his friends to a concert. It’s as simple as that.

You see, we are all humans; we have many connections to each other that would appear if we only look for them. Maybe, it depends on the type of human you run into that determines whether the world becomes a smaller, more friendly, comfortable, concert going place or a large, dark, stay in your room type of place.

When we live in a time that allows us the luxury of jumping on a plane and traveling to places – places that many have only read about in books, it makes sense to strive for that comfortable, concert going place. Music is a universal language. Go listen to it the next time you are the visitor. Feel the connection with other people.  We are all human. Let’s be friends.



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