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I have blogged on the lack of face to face communications previously, and in a recent New York Times article the concept of the three circles interested me. Remember the idea of the “six degrees of separation”? It is theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. The NYT article talks about, say the first ring the third (called the middle) and the last of these. Thus, the inner, middle, and outer circle of contacts.

Today, we have a political dysfunction which llies deep in society. If there’s truly going to be improvement in this, there has to be improvement in the social context politics is embedded in.

So, when I grew up I lived close to members of a family, my neighborhood, my school, in a a different nation, continent and world. My life had a varied but coherent circle.

Fast forward to my twenties and I am an immigrant to the US. I noticed a community/membership mind-set despite the Vietnam war that was waging I never regretted my move. There was a welcoming attitude. Sidebar: I was still a white person, who was “embedded” in the Peace Movement at Berkely but not completely cognsant of the privilege my skin color granted. Later I dated an African American who slowly and surely educated me on this.

Recently our nation has an individualistic and autonomotous direction and how large companies and rich individuals have restricted individual rights while advancing their power and their own interests.

Which brings me to my earlier writings. I have said “that the NA has a proud history of emphasizing people skills especially at the margins of society, practice being a friend face to face”. and pointed out that this could be “an antidote to the 120 character communications a la Twitter, we often live in”. The problem is that the more people interact with a person or the real world through a screen rather than in real life, the less emotion is attached to the exchange.

Meanwhile, the individualist turn in society has compounded this divide such that the NYT quotes that “47 percent of Americans reported that they knew none or just a few of their neighbors by name”. Even sadder is there has been a sharp rise in the number of people who report that they have no close friends to confide in. And that’s where we as interracial connected men can act.

How can we do that? First learn, as stated above, that there are “Middle-ring relationships”, that can help people become skilled at deliberation. The guy sitting next to you at Starbucks may have political opinions you find abhorrent, but you still may have to get stuff done with him, week after week.

Given that the NA is a cauldron of diversity these middle-ring relationships can diversify your identity. You are also a citizen in a neighborhood in. Sometimes it seems that your neighborhood or, of course, the world is bigotted. However, as you go on our Facebook page with 12,000 members and rant, your middle-ring memberships may be deteriorating causing a lack of deliberation. People then may find it easier to ignore inconvenient viewpoints and facts. We’re good at bonding with people like ourselves but worse at bridging with people unlike ourselves. I am not saying that one should abandon your principles but nurture the local membership web to include diverse political opinions as well as nurture the local membership web that includes diverse opinions ad well as diverse skin colors and sexual identity, Go to your local groups including your local NA chapter, as well as Facebook.

Remeber we may even be happier and more fulfilled. We can reach all of our discrete individual desires if we cultivate those middle rings of our lives. Once again, I believe NA friends and allies tend to the garden of our lives by feeding all three of our rings and not relying on those “six degrees of separation”.


New York Times: