History often repeats itself. This phrase used to seem like a cautionary warning but the last two years have transformed it to have a feeling more like a judgmental, “I told you so.” Events I had only read about in history books like a global pandemic, racial unrest as part of the fight for civil rights and the start of war in Europe are actually happening.

Bad things happen in the world every day but this has felt heavier and closer.

Six degrees of separation is a theory that any two people on earth can be connected to each other through the network connections of six or fewer people. This theory has been around since the 1920s and has shown up in pop culture as the subject of plays, movies and even a game featuring Kevin Bacon as the speculated most connected person in the entertainment industry.

I have often thought that in the agriculture community we could cut the number of degrees in half. Maybe we are friendlier or there are just less of us, but I could give example after example of how small our world is and the interesting places I have meet people with whom I share a first or second social connection.

For example, less than six months ago, I was traveling with Kansas Farm Bureau’s Casten Fellows program, learning about how farmers in the Baltic states have worked to build their businesses, infrastructure and knowledge over the last three decades after gaining independence from Russian occupation.

Farmers we met on that trip have close family and friends who are in Ukraine and willing to fight for their freedom. That’s two degrees of separation for me.

All of the people we met in the Baltics, who are thriving under their own sovereignty, know they will be a future target if the Ukraine falls to Russia. Then it would be just one degree of separation.

That is why it feels so close. People I know or that know my connections are fighting a war. Not because they volunteered to help, but because invaders burst into their homes trying to rob them of their independence.

Power, greed, hatred, disagreement and control are some of the most unfortunate motivators within human nature because they lead to separation, struggle and conflict. War is a dreadful and often repeated reality brought about by these motivators.

With war just a degree or two away, the struggles and conflicts of our everyday lives seem to lessen a little in light of all the things we already have and the ways we universally alike.

We all want to be safe, healthy, connected. War does none of these things but making new connections, sharing our lives and being good to each other reduces our degrees of separation and brings us all closer together.

The world gets smaller and better with every connection we make. Hold your loved ones closer, reach out to friends and strangers to connect to the world around you, and continue to pray for the families in Ukraine and their connections all over the world.