It only takes a butterfly…


Butterflies CC BY on Flickr

I have found myself thinking increasingly about the butterfly effect of late. Perhaps because there have been a few in my garden despite the increasingly autumnal weather, or maybe (more likely) because of the frequent illustrations of chaos worldwide coming into my home through news media.

I find myself constantly musing over how changes that someone perceives as minor can have catastrophic effects on the lives of others. I doubt that Trump had considered even for a moment how his travel ban could cause major disruption to the lives of Americans and not just those he assumes are “terrorists” and he claimed to be targeting.  Nor did he think his recent tweets about an NFL player  would result in a widely supported campaign to support freedom of expression, #takeaknee which brought support from around the world. His assumptions are exposed by his smallest decision or tweet.

The #brexiteers also assume that embarking on years of negotiation will result in a better future and yet, from the moment the EU referendum result was announced in the UK we have seen a rise in hate crime . I’m sure that those same leave campaigners will insist that this is nothing to do with their campaign but to ignore evidence to the contrary is to refuse to accept that people in positions of power have a responsibility to model the best in behaviour. Being an MP is a privilege (just one of many these people have enjoyed in their lifetime) and the unpleasantness their rhetoric has engendered has spoiled the lives of many in our diverse and previously peaceful communities.

Silence implies consent. Ignoring what may seem like minor actions could be the precursor to a major shift. I have been very aware of seemingly incremental decisions in the areas of disability and healthcare. Contracts have been changed for health and medical workers, undermining their rights and allowing privatisation by the back door. The Government’s move to a single disability payment put in place by Ian Duncan-Smith has driven many of our most vulnerable into poverty and despair. Despite overwhelming evidence for the damage this is doing I am sure that IDS thinks waiting 6 weeks without income is no big deal – after all he has never had a problem with his cash flow.

These are just a few examples of how uninformed decision making (perhaps intentionally so) can impact catastrophically on the everyday lives of individuals. I have many more personal examples in my recent work and personal life too. That makes me even more sure that we should never ignore the butterflies. 



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