My last post was inspired in part by the well-documented and somewhat self-evident Butterfly Effect.
Indeed, most of my thinking is in response, one way or another, to this concept. For when I reflect on my actions, I am concerned first and foremost with their effect. Underneath that focus there is an assumption of some level of agent efficacy that may or may not exist.
The things we quibble and quarrel about, like Good and Evil, Accountability and Blame, Morality and Righteousness, God and Country, are shallow and somewhat vacuous intellectual romps compared to the really hard and far more fundamental question of just how much a flapping butterfly wing matters.
On the one hand, proof of mattering is all around us.
That may not seem so obvious when we describe the Butterfly Effect as the flap of butterfly wings on one side of the globe causing a Tsunami on the other side. It may even sound absurd. But it becomes less so when we call it the more technical sounding Chaos Theory and look at it instead as simply saying that a small change can have huge effects down the road.
And it becomes immediately personal when viewed in terms of us existing at all.
“Us” in the plural sense, certainly, when you realize how many extinctions have occurred, but here I am meaning “us” in the singular sense: you, me, and other would-be agents of change.
For when I reflect on my own existence, I can’t help being awestruck at how amazing it is that I am here at all. My presence might not seem like a particularly grand effect when viewed by someone other than me, but from the biased perspective of JD Fox, it is an inconceivably huge effect
But the other hand is present, too:
Effects can be easily wiped out. One vote makes a difference. But an opposite vote cancels it. The flapping of wings can have an effect. But the flapping of other wings can negate it. I am here, but I could have easily never been.
Such things in no way disprove the butterfly effect, of course, since those negations are also reliant on the small changes of long ago and act instead as further proof. But they humble me, as I not only look at myself, but I look at the systems and processes involved.
The further out we move our lens, the more the effects, however huge, get negated. Trump’s insane tantrum-tweets, Kim Jong-un’s childish missile-waving, and all the other imbecilic, get-out-of-my-sandbox acts that spin us into hysterics are to the universe like a drop of water clinging to the edge of a pail.
That’s been left out in the hot sun.