The Butterfly Effect: we avoid “destruction” by increasing small acts to help others … unhappiness increases as we reduce help for others
Today’s readings are less about the end of our lives and more about the beginning of greater stages in our lives, if only we choose to become like Christ. Christ talks about destruction, which usually leads to fear or worry. In this context, though, the real message of Christ is about CHANGE…
And not just any change, but change that leads to liberation =salvation. But, change, as we all know, is not always welcome or easy. The change that liberates is, ironically, the change we make to increase our help for others. Ideologically, that’s opposite to the cultural messages “sent” out to us, today.
We can hear the call for climate change in Laudato Si, but few nations (and even people) want to change – there is a fear of losing some comforts.
There has been unrelenting pressure on general moral codes over the last 30 years, such that, more and more pressure is placed on institutions to allow everything and stand for only those things the loudest voices demand. This year one thing, next year another thing =no stability.
Then, there are some people who take advantage of our fears and tell us that climate change is not real; that “you” are the most important and no one should tell you what to do =the Post Truth Era. Here are some examples of the importance of change:
- Most parents can look back when their children are leaving home and say it was worth it;
if they can remember what they were like before marriage, most will say it was shallow;
- Most older people having their first child often say: ‘wow, I wish we’d done this long ago.’
The change from single to married becomes a liberation if entered into honestly.
- A student at University years ago continued drinking and misbehaving after university, and became kind of useless and an alcoholic. Change in behaviour would have opened up many new and rewarding paths for his life.
- Many young people going overseas to “help” the poor come back transformed and changed: becoming more generous to others = liberated from selfishness and receive blessings of love.
The trouble with change is our fear of what is beyond – as one famous movie often said: “this is as good as it gets.” And, so, people often stop trying to change, and end up in a spiral of sadness, depression and addiction as they look for happiness in the disguise of pleasure.
True freedom and liberation is to discover ourselves as we look to empower others: I’ve made a difference for another person – my life has purpose. Now, as soon as we get excited about making positive changes in our lives, our imaginations start picturing big ways, and we start to lose confidence as we think about all our daily duties.
However, let’s borrow something from what’s known as the Butterfly Effect: in chaos theory, the Butterfly Effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a … system can result in large differences in a later state.
Mathematician and meteorologist Edward Norton Lorenz… noted that the Butterfly Effect is derived from the … example of … a tornado (the exact time of formation, the exact path taken) being influenced by minor activities such as a distant butterfly flapping its wings several weeks earlier… The Butterfly Effect concept has since been used outside the context of weather science as a broad term for any situation where a small change is supposed to be the cause of larger consequences. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect
So, be encouraged: as we do small things to empower or help others, we start creating the potential for large POSITIVE changes in ourselves and our Communities.
The First Reading encourages us to believe that corrupt and abusive leaders will not last for ever. However, that partly depends on us: the longer people cooperate with corrupt/ evil leaders, the longer they will last. So, it’s an invitation to be part of the solution.
Can we really expect God to bless us with all we ask when we don’t do our ‘work’ on earth: Do we act with integrity? Speak the Truth? Are we quick to help and slow to judge others?
Unfortunately, Christ also warns us: “…You will be hated by all men on account of my name...” Nothing good comes easy – but the pain of change helps give meaning to our lives.
Fr Richard Rohr OFM says that the happy people, in the second half of life, are those who have found some way to serve others. I pray we can persevere with generosity toward others, so that fear of the future goes away. Christ promised: giving gifts to the poor cancels a lot of sins.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI