Related or Acquainted
PANAMA. Did you ever notice that every Panamanian seems to be either related or acquainted with one another? Is this just a figment of ...
PANAMA. Did you ever notice that every Panamanian seems to be either related or acquainted with one another? Is this just a figment of one’s imagination or is it steeped in reality?
Well? I’ve asked many of my Panamanian friends this question and without exception they all reacted with a broad smile and an affirmative, “Yes, of course we are!”
Now, I like a good joke (as the familiar adage goes) as well as the next guy. And being a writer, I love a good story. However, I’m also not the most trusting soul you’ll ever meet. I like to chalk up my overall apprehension of peoples’ avowals to my personal life’s experiences. In other words, I’ve skinned my knees more than enough times to realize that taking one’s word as gospel is not always the smartest thing to do.
That’s when the practical, analytical side of my brain shifted into gear – examining the obvious facts that would warrant my friends’ united response. Well, for starters, the population of Panama [according to the July, 2008 World FactBook] is estimated to be 3,309,679. Okay, given that statistic, is it possible that every Panamanian is either related or acquainted with one another? From my point of view? related, no! Acquainted, possibly?
This conclusion was based on my knowledge of a popular theory expanded by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929, further explored by American psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1950’s and finally published in 1978, known as the Six Degrees of Separation. This hypothesis refers to the idea that, “if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is an average of six ‘steps’ away from each person on Earth.”
Now apply that premise to Panama with its slightly over 3.3 million population and suddenly the proposition that every Panamanian could be acquainted with one another comes very real.
Okay, that’s feasible. But, when I literally got the same response to my question from all of my Panamanian friends it went beyond a statistical probability. I began to realize that the answer was in their mischievous smile and twinkling eyes.
Was it as simple as an inside joke shared by all Panamanians, or a more elaborate generational secret? Well? I wish I had the answer to that question.
But knowing my Panamanian friends, I believe it has a whole lot to do with the intense pride and love they have for their country and the inherent fondness, warmth and affection that they display to all people who feel as strongly about Panama as they do. So the next time you wonder why every Panamanian seems to be either related or acquainted with one another – you’ll at least know my take on the subject.
Rob Kircher is an International marketing and advertising specialist, writer and filmmaker and welcomes comments at Rob@RobKircher.com