Our effect upon others

It is sobering to stand back for a time and consider the effect which our actions and words can have on other people.

We are all aware of the Butterfly Effect, a title given by Edward Lorenz, mathematician and meteorologist, upon discovering though repeatedly running his weather models, that each tiny change in the initial conditions would produce a significantly different outcome.  The name Butterfly Effect refers to how a butterfly flapping its wings in Asia could drastically alter the weather in New York City.

The cumulative effect of minor changes mean that, even today, weather forecasting is a science which can only accurately predict outcomes a few days ahead.  Chaos theory means that the further in time the attempted prediction the less accurate the prediction will be.  Even with all the sources of information which we have today, countless ground, sea and air based weather monitors and satellite observations, and with the benefit of formidable computing power as never before, we cannot accurately predict weather long in advance. A build up of small variations has the potential to set any prediction widely off course.

In the same way our day to day behaviour can have an effect which is altogether out of proportion to what we might expect.  A simple good deed performed today or a helpful word spoken can trigger similar action of the part of others, rippling out from one person, affecting other people and ultimately cascading in a totally unpredictable variety of beneficial results.  One good deed or one motivating good word issued at the right time has the potential to change the world.

We have to be aware too that our less skilful deeds and words can work their way into the communal consciousness and have devastating effects further down the chain of cause and effect. 

A simple example is bad humour, few things are more infectious, and starting from one person, especially from one in authority, bad humour can quickly devastate a whole body.  But in our day to life bad humour would be considered a rather trivial failing.  What about violence, even to the point of killing, abuse, physical and mental, and all the many attitudes and acts of evil of which every one of us is, given the right circumstances, all too capable?  Look at the effect of war and terrorism, even the effects of what might be considered a just war and what might be considered to be justified acts of violence in response to oppression. 

Everyone who is the victim of subjection, violence, war, terror and atrocity has the potential to give back in kind, or worse, what he or she has received and so add to the world’s reservoir of hatred.

So having thought about these things what can we do?  Simply remember this: that each of us, the best and the worst, has within us, seeds of goodness and the opposite.  The seeds that we water will be ones that will grow.  When faced with unfairness try as far as possible to avoid watering the seeds of retribution and revenge.  Try every day to water the seeds of goodness that lie within.  These can be done by any simple good deed, a good thought, a kind word of encouragement.  These things cost nothing and every one of them adds to humanity’s store of goodness. 

Each new day will give all of us many opportunities for a decent and honourable response to what is offered to us.   When the opportunity arises opt for the good side.  It could change the world. 

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