You’ve likely heard of the butterfly effect, which is a concept that proposes that even a butterfly flapping its wings can change the weather thousands of miles away. The concept suggests that a very small change can have a big impact on the end result. If you give it some thought, it is pretty cool to think that even the smallest change in conditions could result in a big impact down the road.
As I think about my actions in the world, it is a bit terrifying to think that my deliberate choice to eat 7 pieces of licorice instead of 6 might be changing something in my life a few weeks from now, but surely that isn’t exactly how the concept works. It seems quite unlikely that such a small choice you make now will result in a totally different situation for you next month. Yet, we see this born out in history.
How often does one person act, and then we see the result worldwide? A person catching a thrown football instead of missing it can change the fortunes of thousands of gamblers. Those gamblers may come out of this new situation for better, or for worse. Those effects will cause ripples too, as the man who just won $50 by guessing the outcome correctly may spend some of that money on his family, where the man who lost $50 will have to go without something that he would have purchased, perhaps skipping the microscope his son wanted for his birthday in favor of something less expensive. I could go on, but I suspect that you get the picture.
Now the butterfly doesn’t know how to effect the specific changes it wants, and this is that part that gets tricky, because we humans think we are smart enough to know what will happen as a result of our actions. Unfortunately I’m not sure I see much evidence of this. For example, in my own life, since I want to be in shape, some small actions I could take to affect the outcome of my desire would be to drink less sugary drinks, and drink more water. Or perhaps I know that 20 minutes of exercise a day will get me closer to my goals of fitness, but I spend that time reading Facebook posts while drinking a large soda instead. Need I go on?
So when we pursue peace, we often think of large grandiose actions that are incredibly difficult to achieve, and as a result, we fail to act on them. What if we spent deliberate time each day focused on a small achievable action to bring peace into our lives? What if it was as simple as one moment, stopping yourself before you walk out the door, reminding yourself to be peaceful in your interactions with those around you today. It seems so small and insignificant, but what could this small moment mean a week from now, a month from now, or a day from now? What if we repeated this moment each day, trusting that even though we don’t see a specific effect, that our so small actions will affect our outcomes?
Today, as you walk out your front door…seek peace.