Six Degrees of Separation: the preaching continues…
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this concept before but I’m not sure if I’ve written a full blog on it ; no matter, it’s worth a revisit
Of course, six degrees of separation is not my idea. I’m sure most of us become aware of it with Kevin Bacon’s name attached. What I’ve done is to appropriate it to help me in ethical decision making. For example, let’s take my last blog on vegetarianism. It could be argued that the act of eating meat is not being cruel to that animal – its suffering has long since ended. Buying the meat from the supermarket is not being cruel (one degree); is the supermarket buying it from the wholesaler (two degrees). What about the wholesaler buying it from the farm (three degrees)? The wholesaler isn’t going to want a herd of cattle or lambs trotting in their warehouse – they want them slaughtered and neatly packaged. This enables the (literal) consumer to eat their burger or lamb cutlet free from any ethical dilemma. The ‘product’ no longer looks like a living, breathing setient animal who can experience pain and suffering, so no need to feel any guilt – it’s not like you’ve directly hurt that animal – right? Oh so wrong!
Try it with ‘recreational drugs’ (I hate that expression). One degree takes us to your own personal dealer – maybe a student looking to make some easy money to pay for his tuition. Two degrees and you’re up to a dealer who has a small territory – something he will protect and defend through violence and intimidation – maybe he’s also taken over the home of someone vulnerable or is using children to push his drugs (still comfortable at two degrees?). Three degrees takes us to a much bigger criminal network who perhaps has control of a region or even has lines of distribution all over the country. Gun crime, torture, killings – all in a day’s work for these people (still worth it for your weekend ‘buzz’). I could go on all the way back to a Mexican cartel whose level of violence is unimaginable – no-one is safe. If you buy illegal drugs, you have blood on your hands – it’s as simple as that. So, take your drug addled ostrich heads out of the sand and stop being comfortable at one, two, three or even six degrees of separation.
This concept can be applied to every purchase you make (coffee, fuel, make-up, clothes, etc) and any other decision which impacts the planet (method of travel, your home, etc).
What degree of separation are you comfortable at?
Whist some of us are comfortable being one, two, three degrees of separation from the act of cruelty to an animal – or human being – I’m not. I’m certainly not putting myself on a pedestal – how could I, given the circumstances led to my incarceration. I’m a work in progress, still looking for room to improve; but, this idea at least makes me stop and think about the ‘chain’. I want to minimise my impact on the world and it’s inhabitants, not contribute to the pain and suffering.
Be happy, be safe and be kind.
Graham Coutts 2nd June 2020