This week the world has been shocked to witness what in chaos theory is called The Butterfly Effect, whereby “when a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world.” Or in other words, when an amateur filmmaker in Los Angeles makes a hateful anti-Muslim film, it can cause riots, death, and destruction throughout The Middle East. We witnessed this too with the Qur’an-burning pastor in Florida.
Personally I’d like to see the film maker behind bars as well as the pastor, but the problem is bigger than that. Free speech, for one thing. Democracy demands it. Civility, however, has its own demands. To put it simply, we must respect others.
Civilization is eroding and evolving at once, and perhaps this has always been the case. We know how fast things can erode, as a mere snowball turned into an avalanche while we sat frozen in our seats. But let’s remind ourselves that The Butterfly Effect works both ways, toward healing, understanding, and enlightenment as well.
Robert F. Kennedy expressed it elegantly, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
What we say and do matters. What we write matters. It all matters.
6 responses to “Everything Matters”
I love your idea that words matter, and I’m uplifted to think about words of kindness and hope rippling through the world. Your regular blogs always give me something good to think about, even though we’re half a world apart (I’m in the UK and I think you’re in the USA). Your positive butterfly effect has started…..thank you!
“Hands across the water, heads across the sky.”
I wish more people would realize that our interdependency is rooted deeply. That our thoughts can be powerful and take on a life of their own. Intention aside, free speech etc, the result can be deadly and hurtful. This is a hard time of year with all the politics and division. We are divided enough as a society that this extra toxicity is taking me over the edge. I find myself doing a lot of deep breathing and thinking it’s important to respect my fellow human forms. Lots of butterflies in the yard to remind me that we can affect one person at a time and stem the pace of erosion!
Amen, Kim! Hard sometimes to keep getting back up, to continue
listening, reasoning, discussing—but we must believe civility will prevail.
It is so important to remember this. It does not diminish the horror of what is happening to acknowledge that it is happening and that it has many facets to it.
An elegant little post. So much is spoken about in terms of Rights with a capital R. I have never thought of them as Rights at all but rather as Responsibilities. A civil difference between the questions, Can I? and Should I? We have the right to say anything….yes, but. And the law says nothing slanderous, libelous or now, so it would seem, incites others to violence such as racial epithets. Did our founding Fathers think of these?
Not if they thought of them as Responsibilities with a capital R.
Much of the world does not understand our peculiar emphsis on the freedom of speech in relation to our freedom of religion. The freedom of religion is that gov’t shall make no laws restricting it. I cannot shout racial hatred but I can blaspheme another’s religion? How is that?
I like China’s policy on religion. You can be any religion you want, you just can’t talk about it. Not yours or anyone else’s.
These are difficult issues to be sure but when we envelop them, as you have suggested, in the idea spoken of by Robert Kennedy from which a small ripple of hope from a million centers of energy,…………. well we all matter.
This is leadership and it doesn’t reside in DC