Chapter 3, Part 7, The Butterfly Affect

The butterfly affect is much more than a crappy B grade Hollywood film (although I did kind of like it). It’s a theory about life which holds a lot of weight, and it goes like this…

The basic premise in chaos theory was created by Edward Lorenz. Simply put, he explained how a hurricane can be traced back weeks earlier to something as simple as a butterfly flapping its wings in the right direction. Of cause, the butterfly did not have the strength to start the hurricane on its own, though it can start a chain of events that inevitably end up to such an extreme possibility. And this is where it gets cool.

In Yellowstone Forest within America there were some Elk which were destroying the land. They had bred to great numbers and were now eating all of the vegetation and destroying the ecosystem. To stop this, wolves were introduced into the park which had originally died off over half a century ago. From here the math was simple. Enter wolves into the park, the wolves kill the Elk and therefore the vegetation grows. Simple right! Well, it worked a lot better than that.

The wolves didn’t just kill the Elk, they spread them out. Right away the vegetation grew by 84%. The trees got larger, the land was strong and the beavers began to come. The beaver population went from one colony to nine, and they themselves affected the river by building dams and creating ponds. This cleaned the water, brought even more vegetation and therefore more animals into the forest. Small insects and animals such as rats were growing in population which brought in hawks and many other wild life birds. And suddenly, this forest that was struggling to maintain itself, was now flourishing with life without any further assistance from human kind.

This story can be easily found on the web if you wish. We have all heard the sayings about how a stone throw in the pond creates many ripples, or, how a pebble thrown down a mountain can cause an avalanche. In many ways we look at these things as being simple, though the truth is that it is not that straight forward.

Although the butterfly affect is linked to chaos theory it really isn’t a far stretch to believe that one little act of kindness can go a long way. What sucks is that a random act of kindness can also end up equalling the demise of an entire nation. That all being said it can also be the one thing that saves it.

The choices we make in life have so many ongoing ramifications that it is impossible to see the final outcomes. In fact, all of our actions moment to moment are creating ripples which could go in multiple directions. Maybe it will just affect you, though eventually the affect that it has on you will lead to a future decision that will inevitably affect others. That affect will then keep rippling further and further out to what might be a never ending affect.

Given the fact that there are seven billion people right now taking actions every second which lead to endless possibilities, it makes it very hard to track anything. Actions from over a thousand years ago could be affecting you regularly today. And I am not talking about the big ones such as the invention of electricity. I’m talking about Miss Betty who dropped her shopping, which caused others to assist her, which in affect may create the next Hitler, or for argument’s sake, Dalai Lama. Yet with all of this hectic crazy clashing and impacting going on, do our positive actions make any difference at all?

Let’s use the example of dropping the stone into the pond which creates ripples. This works well with quantum mechanics (which I will describe in a later chapter), as life is full on unseen particles and waves. Now the first and most important impact within the pond creates the largest ripples  Therefore, if that impact is a positive one, it will affect many people before it collides with other ripples from other directions. And yes, maybe the ripple you are watching gets taken out by a bigger negative splash. Yet remember, a ripple in a pond does not head in one direction, it heads in all directions. It will have affects that you will never see. And of cause, the more ripples you make, the harder it is for other ripples to affect you… Confused yet?

The world is in a chaotic state at the moment. And although I don’t like to get political, the powers that be are scaring the living crap out of most of us. Yet by meeting anger with further anger we only create what we are trying to fight against. And once something consumes us it owns us. We get lost within the chaos theory and forget a simple rule, we create our own reality.

Life is not easy and it’s not supposed to be. We get many ripples coming our way which we did not ask for. And if we don’t pay attention, these ripples will consume us. That being said, there is one sure way to limit the affect they have on us, and that’s to create many ripples of our own. We don’t have to scream our cause via a megaphone at Flinder’s St Station, though a simple smile to a stranger can begin a ripple which affects multiple people far beyond ourselves.

We need not worry about those that create negative ripples as every positive will have a negative, and this is the way of all things. Remember, every Superman has their Lex Luther whilst every Batman has their Joker. Luckily for us we don’t have to engage into battle, though creating our own ripples will create truth, justice and the Amer…. Errrrr, scratch that…. Peace and love.

So what does this have to do with the past? Good question. I’ll explain it within the next and final blog in this chapter.


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