“The flapping of a butterflies wings can create a typhoon across the world” – Chaos Theory
One of the most fascinating scientific studies is the Chaos Theory. Contrary to what the name implies, the chaos theory is the examination of the order of complex systems. This theory gets its origin from the analysis of complex mathematical algorithms and fractal recursions entropically induced by random plotting. To put plainly, simple, non-related patterns and points produce complex outcomes and events. This theory has been applied to mathematics, economics, and physics, but not much work has been done to relate this idea to sociological and deterministic sciences, in relation to causality.
Applying such principles to society and human behavior suggests that every event on earth takes place because of the evolvement of everything that is, and once was, in correlation to existence in time. Fundamentally, if the chaos theory is true, the world shapes us and we shape the world. The idea that the words we speak, the breathes we take, the people we meet, or the time in which we decide to do things, determine the outcome of events around the world, implies that every second of our existence shares in the creation of good and evil throughout the present and future. This might sound ambiguous, but is it probable? Just think about leaving two minutes late for work and getting into a car accident, or triggering a suicide just by making eye contact with someone who is mentally ill, or turning on your air conditioner one degree higher than normal, which, in return, raises gas prices. All these things are events that take place in our lives and their impact goes unnoticed in our own life. But according to the chaos theory, these small events are catalysts and starters for bigger world events.
What if you left from work on time and didn’t get into the car wreck? There are many small circumstances that could lead to the two minute extension. Someone might have called you before you got in your car, there might have been a program on TV, or you didn’t get enough sleep the past week and decided to hit snooze on the alarm clock. Everything that ever existed had something to do with your car wreck, either directly or indirectly. It seems like a vague formula for fate, but in actuality, these patterns can help determine outcomes of smaller complex systems. Already, people have been relating unrelated variables and seeing patterns in outcomes. This plotting of unrelated social events using the premise of the chaos theory is termed “freakonomics.” Some of these topics discussed in freakonomics can range from “religion v. touchdowns scored,” “wealth v. shoe size,” and “hurricane season v. gas prices.” Since everything is in relation, breaking down the complex system of our world into smaller related or unrelated systems can allow us to see correlations in virtually anything existing. In the paragraphs below we have two quotes that infer what the chaos theory tries to explain, but both lead into this theory from different sociological angles, one from the idea of “We shape the world” and the other “The world shapes us.” Let us analyze Heraclitus and Tennyson’s early take on the chaos theory.
“You cannot step into the same river twice” – Heraclitus
The world shapes us by constantly changing and allowing us to make choices that further change events around us. The idea that no experience is the same as it was at first can be applied to relationships, nature, psychological behavior, and chronological progression of time. If you go to the Grand Canyon five years after your first trip, and you stand in the exact same geographical point as before, everything is different, whether it is because a park bench was installed, natural erosion of the rocks around you, or squinting at the view due to worsened eyesight. The experience will always be different. The reason for the difference is because the rest of the world changes. We are a part of a complex chaotic system which progresses in a linear direction, never writing over what has been written.
“I am part of all that I have met” – Alfred Lord Tennyson
To share in something’s existence is to share in its experience. Experience allows us to have common ground. Laying claim that if one “knows of something” is to actually have encountered it. I am a part of my friend’s life, I am a part of the people who see me and don’t know me, and I am a part of the high school kid who reads the graffiti on my old high school desk. Whether it is six degrees of separation or chaotic patterning, my actions in life connect me to world. We leave the world a piece of ourselves with every action or lack of action we choose to do. The world gives us options, it is up to us to choose from them, and that choice is the part of us we leave behind in history, thus shaping the world.
No matter what choice you make in your life, know that the choice affects everyone, not just you or the people close to you. We should all feel responsibility for things we have direct relations to. The analysis of this theory is not to disprove individual actions, but to make those actions, whether individually good or evil, more impactful for the individual’s caring of the world. No matter what example we use, a system in chaos always tries to reach a state of equilibrium. Even if every person in the world does deeds, which are good, the outcomes of those actions would balance out to an evil somehow. Instead of striving for perfection in a world of imperfection, we should strive for equilibrium and help balance out the chaos we are all responsible for.
“With change there is always despair, but with despair there is always hope”