It's a Small World

Have you ever wondered what the degree of separation is between you and the person next to you in line at the grocery store?

Years ago a new family moved in next door to my family. After getting acquainted we made a fun discovery: the father was my mother's fourth cousin (or something like that). We even found his picture in a family history book belonging to my mother. Small world.

And then I remembered an old ancestor of mine—John Lathrop (or Lothrop, or Lothropp, etc.). A member of the English Anglican clergy, he was exiled to America in 1634 because of his independent thinking regarding the doctrine and practices of the Anglican church. After he arrived in the States, he had 5 more children, adding up to a grand total of 13. If you do any research about him, you'll find that he is EVERYBODY's something-great-grandfather. By that logic, I think I'm distantly related to several presidents of the United States, and probably several of you reading this. Hi cousins!

Speaking of being related—last month I ran into a woman at a genealogy conference who had a database that connected people to each other. Her goal was to show people how they were related in order to promote a greater sense of community, commonality, and cooperation.

Would that change your perception of others—knowing that you might be related? For me it kind of brings home the idea of a "human family." If everyone could see how intertwined our common ancestry is, would it really change human interaction? What do you think?


Jean-Fran├žois de Buren | June 14, 2010 at 2:30 PM

I agree with you. I think it does bring us closer together. Going beyond genealogy software and databases the singular image that reinforces the idea of human community for me is seeing the earth from space.

Anonymous | July 3, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I think that it absolutely rings a different feel when you know of the family connection. It makes that person special. I also think, that because of that feeling, many problems between people could be lessened. Even racial issues might be alleviated in sharing a common ancestry.

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