Remember that nauseating Disney song, ‘It’s a Small World, After All’? Anybody who’s visited ‘the mouse’ and been stuck on the Small World ride due to technical difficulties or stood in line to sail in those charming little boats has heard it about 3,000 times. Well, is it true? Is it a small world? Or is it a big world? A really, really big world.
On a recent post to my Facebook page, A World of Good, I shared a video of the earth as shot from the ISS or International Space Station at night. It was a fascinating montage of video shot exclusively from the ISS and set to music- you can see it below. As the earth spun below you could make out the huge landmasses and oceans that blanket the earth floating by while lighting, sunrise, sunset and the aurora borealis added to the visually stunning video.
I started to wonder how these two ideas could be in existence: It’s a small world. It’s a big world. Oh I supposed the quick and easy answer is that one’s a figure of speech and the other is a statement about physical size, but are the two mutually exclusive? Can the world be only small or only big?
On a trip to Japan in 2007 we stayed in a hostel in Kyoto where the girl who checked us in was born in Japan but had spent many years in Chicago. While getting information from a park ranger in Mammouth Cave National Park, Kentucky, we realized that the people standing next to us lived about 3 blocks from my childhood home. Watching a Bears/Packers game in rural Wisconsin I found out that the guy sitting next to me not only had heard of and been to my hometown, but knew my father. Devine intervention? *shrugs*. Coincidence? Maybe. Mind-blowing? Definitely!
For sure, those examples can make the case for it being a small world, but what about it being a big world? The distances from Chicago to Wisconsin, Kentucky and Japan all vary, some greatly, but how great do those distances need to be before the globe strikes us as ‘big’. Even though these experiences seem to shrink our globe, the fact still remains that there are billions of people whom I will never meet or even come close to meeting. But likewise, there are people who live across town from me whom I will never meet as well.
Our technology has advance to the point that this morning, from our vacation home in rural Wisconsin, I: talked to my mother-in-law in Chicago, visited a website in the Bahamas, texted my daughter in Illinois and Skyped with a coworker in California. Likewise, for those we don’t care to associate with, we can distance ourselves in proximity and communication.
My conclusion is that no. The two are not mutually exclusive and the world can not be only small or only big. It seems an oxymoron but in truth the world is both. And to be quite honest, I’m thrilled at the notion that even though there may be thousands of miles between us all we can lessen them through word, thought and image to bring us together.