Article in brief: one small act could have a greater impact than you might expect.
I once had a doctor’s appointment and was walking towards the entrance of the hospital when I saw a policeman making his parking permit checking route. I looked around and noticed that one of the cars had a permit that expired 20 minutes ago. Luckily I had a couple of coins in my pocket and I got this car a fresh parking permit. Then I ran to catch my appointment.
At the time, I didn’t give it much thought. In my head, the owner of that car must have had some unforeseeable delay that prevented him from coming back to his car before his permit expired. If I could help prevent a fine that he might have gotten, maybe this could turn his day around knowing that a complete stranger made this gesture and saved him a AED 150 fine.
All of these were immediate and direct outcomes. But it is also possible that this person might choose to do something nice for someone else and that someone will carry the torch and do something good for another, and so forth.
To put this into perspective, I would like to refer to a concept that most of us, if not all, are familiar with. The Butterfly Effect is mostly tangled up with chaos theory and time travel, which makes some people rule it as utter nonsense. So what is this Butterfly Effect and where did the name of this concept come from?
It is a phenomenon where a small change that takes place in one area in a complex system, however minute this change is, it can have huge consequences and cause variances in another area. Edward Lorenz was the first to call it the Butterfly Effect referring to a metaphoric example that a teeny-weeny flap of butterfly wings can actually cause the path of a tornado to be altered, delayed or even stop it from ever occurring.
The little flapping wings of the butterfly represents a very small change in the system in its initial stages, provoking a series of events that will have gigantic alterations to events that eventually could affect large areas and people’s lives. Fun fact: Lorenz was actually studying seagulls at the time but calling it the Seagulls Effect would have been less poetic.
The term and concept has been used in pop culture for decades ever since, such as in the movies It’s a Wonderful Life, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and even a full feature movie under the same name, starring Ashton Kutcher.
So if a butterfly’s wings can stop a tornado, imagine and reconsider your actions, whether big or small, in changing the course of events. Every little thing we do in our lives can cause ripple effects that transcend our immediate surroundings and go beyond areas where our actions and consequences are so vivid.
Thus, do not let doubt distort your self-worth, your role is significant. Every individual among the billions sharing this planet, orbiting and hurling through this boundless universe, is important and can make a difference be it intentionally or not. So let us believe in our influences and begin to send positive ripple effects that could echo across time and space.