Back in the early 1960s, a scientist named Edward Lorenz was studying weather patterns, and he posed this question: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? This question is fascinating to ponder because it implies we are all interconnected.
Lorenz found that the smallest changes to his calculations would have a dramatically meaningful effect on the outcome of his equations. In other words, over time, even the little things we do can have an exponential effect on tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
Lorenz’s research has captivated the popular imagination, in part, I believe, because the butterfly effect is such a captivating concept to think about. If the flap of a butterfly’s wings has the potential to cause a storm across the oceans, what are the implications for us?
The butterfly effect implies that we’re all interconnected and that our actions can have lasting impacts. If we can spark a chain reaction that sets the world on a different course, wouldn’t we want to use that power for good?
How do we apply the butterfly effect to our own lives? Well, if you consider that small moments can drastically alter the course of the future, you’re more likely to cherish each moment. If every decision you make could have life-altering effects for the people around you — and for people you can’t even see — you’re far less likely to act carelessly.
If nothing you do is insignificant, that means we can all make a difference. When you act from a place of love, there is literally no telling how much good you can do. What we do today effects tomorrow, and tomorrow is a whole new day full of infinite possibilities.
Our actions ripple throughout time, and we have no way of knowing exactly how far our reach is. And that’s okay.
Later in life Lorenz said, “If the flap of a butterfly’s wings can be instrumental in generating a tornado, it can equally well be instrumental in preventing a tornado.”
If you are wondering if you can make a difference, the answer is you can, you do and you already have whether you know it or not. The future is not decided yet, so get out there and move those wings. See what kind of storm you can start — or stop — from your corner of the world.
William W. Brown is founder and board chair of Legacy Early College. He can be reached at email@example.com.