I am fascinated by the idea of the Butterfly Effect. According to this idea, first presented by Edward Lorenz, the flap of a butterfly's wings could alter conditions in the weather pattern and could eventually bring about effects as large and as far away as a tornado on the other side of the earth. This could be an argument against cynicism. If a butterfly's wings can have such an impact, what effects could our small acts of kindness have?
Unfortunately this also applies in a more negative way: we don't know what effects our negative words and actions can have. Several times recently rumors have caused stress, hurt, and anger for people whom I care about. This is a tricky topic. Gossip is so easily spread that even talking about the topic I risk spreading it. (I can just hear it now, "Do you know what rumors she is talking about?" "I bet she is talking about....") So, I will leave it at a reminder that we do not know the effects rumors can have. I can not think about this topic without thinking of the Lost and Found song: Heard. Check out the link. It's worth a chuckle.
Community is another example of a place the Butterfly Effect is sometimes illustrated. The community of which I am currently a part is gifted in the fact that many young people choose to return to this community to raise their families. This helps the enrollment numbers at our schools, helps keep our churches alive, and helps our businesses stay in business. It is very important to a community that its children want to return. My husband grew up in this community and wanted to return. Some of the experiences he told me about, as we made plans for our future, were instances of neighbor helping neighbor. These small acts of kindness have effects that extend into our schools, businesses, and throughout our communities. Likewise when conflict rocks a community the effects may be felt for years to come.
It is easy to become cynical in our day and age when we are bombarded with images of tragedy, political corruption, violence, poverty, etc. Just as the wings of a butterfly could effect the trajectory of a tornado, so our small acts of kindness, our small acts of courage, our small acts of forgiveness and humility could make a tremendous difference in ways we may never know. Scripture tells us similarly, "'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?...' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these ...you did it to me.'" (a portion of Matthew 25:37-40)