Less than 1 degree of separation

Kauai is connected more closely than most.

The recent loss of five people in a tragic accident is another reminder of how connected we all are, whether kama’aina, resident, or visitor.

Coming home, I learned how many other members of my ohana were linking me to this disaster, either directly or indirectly. Friends worked with the wonderful staff of SkyDive Kauai, or did business with them. Others lost grandchildren. I had a direct relationship with another. My world became heavy with what was lost for so many, multiplying our community loss.

Events here touch so many, we are affected by everything that occurs. Living in our small-er pond, every action creates waves that rock us. And those waves then bounce back against us again and again, as the shock ripples through us all. We grieve as a community.

The world is shrinking, both by the increase in travel, and the interconnected Internet. More people and mobility, and as they move, they contact more people. More contacts, equals more need for respect & courtesy, the handy recipe that reduces friction and hurt feelings.

In 1929, Frigyes Karinthy, a Hungarian author explored how the world was shrinking. At that time, there were 1.5 billion inhabitants of the planet, and he was fascinated by how social connections bridges the distances. He believed that any two people, anywhere on the planet, could be connected through only five friends. Today it is likely, much less.

In 1990, John Guare wrote a play called 6 Degrees of Separation, later made into a film showing how strangers are connected, through “friends of friends.” Everything from games to Facebook have continued to show us, how deeply and utterly connected we all are.

Now we have a world with 7, 427, 237, 573 billion people when this sentence started. So far, today there have been 236, 693 births. One, according to a recent text, happening pretty soon here on Kauai. The world population clock reminds me that more than time is changing. (There was an increase of 2400 people by the end of this article.)

Families growing, relatives visiting, and our ohana is expanding. We will be more and more connected as time goes by. Greater population density, means that we will have more con-tact with each other. The practices of Aloha are needed now, more than ever. Respect and courtesy reduce the friction of population impacts.

Thankfully, our county leaders are wisely seeing that we need to expand our homes to accommodate future generations, and are planning ordinances to support that. Having enough space to accommodate our families, reduces domestic violence, abuse, stress, and substance use.

On Kauai there is hardly any separation, any more than the flowers woven into a wiliwili lei, are really separate.

We are all living together in a tiny boat on a huge ocean. We are all connected with more than cell phones.

Newcomers sometimes complain that they lost their anonymity. Everyone knows your business, and what you are doing. Sometimes I hear about what I am doing, before I have even thought about it. There are moments of annoyance.

Yet at the same time, that community awareness, the gossip and “talk story,” create a community responsible for each other. It creates a safety net that helps us stay aware of each other’s needs, losses, and joys. That aloha makes Kauai great.


Virginia Beck has lived on Kauai since 1971. One of KCC’s first RN graduates, she was a nurse practitioner here, and in the Stanford community, a Certified Trager Practitioner, and a childbirth educator. A rich educational experience in European countries, Pakistan, and the mainland were good preparation for our multicultural chop suey Kauai life. A Wellness Coach and writer, at Healthy by Design Hawaii, she helps her clients erase stress and design “Lives they Love.” (808) 635-5618


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