Saturday, 9 March 2013

Butterfly Wings

It is said that when a butterfly flaps its wings somewhere in South America at this moment, it could well trigger the formation of a hurricane that hits Texas at the same moment. Of course, this is only a beautiful picture thought out by Edward Lorenz to explain chaos theory and to show that everything on this planet is interrelated. On the psychological level C. G. Jung’s collective unconscious points into a similar direction. No knowledge and no memory ever gets lost because it’s stored deep down in the universal human mind. It goes without saying that under ordinary circumstances we can’t access that information (and if we could, we would be overwhelmed by it), but it’s all there and influences us.

Chaos theory and analytical psychology aren’t part of general education. They are too difficult to understand, if anyone at all can really understand them in their full import. For average people like me, the material world gives enough evidence of the sometimes visible and often hidden relations of things. Coincidence is an excellent example for such connections that are beyond our perception. Often, we can’t explain why the pieces of our lives fell into place the way they did because there has been no obvious relation between the events that led to it. Most of us call this pure chance. Others may call it a sign of Providence or kismet, maybe the result of our karma. Whatever: the facts are there. And we had our share in it knowingly or unconsciously doing or omitting something that made the outcome possible. 

It can be a bit frightening to realise that all our actions and non-actions have consequences of some kind either now or later. When we can’t see them coming, we don’t have much of a choice really. We can only do what we judge best at the moment and leave the rest to fate. In other cases we know about the consequences or we can at least imagine them. There, too, we are called upon doing what is best. The question is: best for whom? Me? My family? My company? My country? My planet? We have to make choices in every single moment of our lives and live with them for the rest of our days. Each one of our choices changes something, often in a way that we don’t even notice. Something as simple as having a snack can have an impact. 

If I eat a banana or sip a cup of tea (or coffee, if you prefer), it influences the life of a farmer elsewhere. My share to the farmer’s income may be less than marginal, but still I added something to it. As a responsible consumer I can control part of the consequences that I cause. I can buy organically grown bananas and tea (coffee) in order to make sure that my European habits won’t harm environment and people in those parts of the world where bananas and tea (coffee) come from. In addition, I can pick fairly traded bananas and tea (coffee) to improve the living conditions of the farmers and their families along with reducing their dependence on big and exploitive companies. Of course, this means that I’ll have to spend more money on bananas and tea, but in Europe most of us are living in abundance and it won’t do us any harm to cut back on quantity. 

This is my way of being a butterfly flapping its wings… and trying to start a change for the better instead of disaster.

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