by CG Author, Jake Danger

Butterfly Effect

Chaos theory, a recent groundbreaking theory in applied mathematics, asserts that even a butterfly flapping its wings in Texas can cause a chain of events leading to a typhoon in Japan a month later. It’s called “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”. What that means in plain English is that the matrix of cause and effect is so delicately balanced and interdependent that if you change one thing, you change everything.

What fascinates me is how that idea might translate into the effect that our conscious decisions have on the world around us. I am reminded of the film “Schindler’s List”, about a German industrialist in World War II who ran a munitions factory with Jewish slave labor. He kept requesting more and more laborers, far more than he needed, aware that their recruitment would save them from the gas chambers (and saw to it that his factory produced nothing of value to the German war effort).

What is stunning about that film is the final scene - actual footage from the 1980s, of hundreds of people filing past his grave to lay flowers on his tombstone. I was curious as to why so many of them were clearly too young to have been alive during World War II. Until it hit me - these were the sons and daughters of the Jews on Schindler’s list. People who never would have been born except for Schindler’s heroism.

Some of the grandsons and granddaughters have yet to be born even to this day. And hundreds of years from now, how many people who will have never heard the name “Schindler” will unwittingly owe their lives, indeed their very births, to the man who saved the life of their great-great-great-great-grandmother during an ancient war?

“What we do in life, echoes in eternity” - Russell Crowe in the film “Gladiator”

Noble sentiments to be sure, but I still like to whine. Sometimes, anyway. Life is just too difficult and there is just too much pain - especially the emotional kind. My heart gets broken, people betray me, my hopes get dashed time and time again, I climb towards the summit time and time again only to get knocked down once more. If life could just be a little bit easier…But in my heart I know that even if it got easier I still wouldn’t be satisfied. I won’t be satisfied until things are … PERFECT. I guess we all long for a perfect world. Believers wait for one, agnostics long for one, and atheists wish they could stop thinking about it. So let’s do a thought experiment here - what if the world was really perfect? What if there was no war, no poverty, everyone was beatiful and healthy, we all lived forever, nobody had acne, everybody loved each other and nobody picked their nose?

It’s the ultimate challenge for a Professional Whiner - to find something wrong with a perfect world. But I accept the challenge. There is one thing that would be missing in a perfect word, one kind of person that heaven cannot produce.

A hero.

Heros are born of adversity, and since a perfect world would have no adversity, a perfect world would have no heroes, only soft, fuzzy whiners who wouldn’t last 30 minutes in a Louisiana cotton field. Of course it could be argued that a perfect world would have no need of heroes. Well, this world has no real need for the Grand Canyon or the Himalaya mountains, but they sure are nice…

Without fear there can be no courage. Without the possibility of betrayal there can be no real devotion to another. And without being familiar with despair, we cannot know true joy. I find something surpassingly beautiful about a strong and noble character - a nail that refuses to be pounded down.

When I get depressed or upset about the way that life is treating me, I try to remember that someday I will have forever to take it easy and thrill as every dream I’ve ever dreamed comes true one by one. But who will I be by then? That is all being determined right now. This brief millisecond between birth and death is the only chance I’ll ever have, in all of eternity, to stand strong and prove myself against adversity. I can only hope that when it’s all said and done that I will have proven myself worthy.

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