“Butterfly Effect”


The butterfly effect refers to making a decision while not knowing the unintended future happenings. For example when Esau got soup from Jacob and gave Jacob his birthright, he had no idea that a people called Israel would be the result. When Jesus was killed by the Romans for being a zealot, they did not know Christianity would be the state religion under Constantine for the Roman Empire.,


A recent History Channel documentary told the story of a young German soldier in World War I. While on the battlefield, an explosion knocked him unconscious and his rifle was thrown far away from where he lay on the ground.  When he came to (remarkably uninjured), everyone was gone from the battlefield except a young British soldier who had become separated from his unit. As the young German stood up, the British soldier took aim with his rifle and was ready to shoot the German, who just stood there, attempting to neither charge toward nor run from the British soldier. Realizing the German was unarmed and also realizing that taking a prisoner by himself so far from his own unit would be very difficult, the British soldier lowered his rifle and let the German walk away back toward the German lines.


While this story might seem like only one of many stories of human kindness sometimes displayed in times of war, it will perhaps all change when it is learned that the young German soldier was Adolf Hitler. Imagine how different the world might have been had the British soldier decided to shoot the young German rather than let him walk away. One might think it a very negative “butterfly effect” impact given what impact an older Hitler had on the world, but we will never know. What if, for example, Hitler had been shot by the young British soldier and died in that field? Given the world situation at the time and the instability in Germany after WWI, what if an aggressive communist leader had gained control of Germany, and then decided to ally with Stalin’s USSR instead of attacking them as Hitler did? It’s hard to imagine the possible consequences to the world under that scenario. We may think our lives, decisions, statements, and actions are of little consequence in the future direction of the people around us and the world in total, but do we really know?


If it is true that some seemingly trivial action, statement, or decision on our part has a possibility of impacting a large number of those around us, then shouldn’t we be guided by a strong internal perspective of what is the best approach to guide our decisions? That is where we need our faith – faith that the Ten Commandments and the lessons from God and Jesus Christ in both the Old and New Testaments can provide the best guideline that may help ensure that our own “butterfly effect” moments in this world have the greatest possibility for the overall good results for those around us, and possibly even for the world itself. Jesus does says for us to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbor as our self. Future results are in the hands of our Lord.


Steve Chapman, Author