The Butterfly Effect and Meaning

Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug

Okay. One more story from Andy Andrews. (After this week, you need to just go out and buy his books). Today’s post is inspired by his book “The Butterfly Effect.” As you may know, the butterfly effect essentially says that under the right conditions, a butterfly can flap its wings on one side of the world and it could cause a hurricane on the other. It’s the concept that from seemingly the smallest things, huge results can occur. Everything you do matters. You matter. Read on.

Last week in that keynote I recorded, Andy told the story of Norman Borlaug. Norman won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with grain that helped save the lives of 2 billion people from famine in arid countries.  Andy said he was surprised that Norman got this prize because he knew (based on his research for the book) that the real hero was Henry Wallace.

Henry Wallace was the US vice president under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second term. During FDR’s first term, Henry Wallace was secretary of agriculture and initiated laws that allowed Borlaug to do the work that saved 2 billion people. So, Wallace is really the one who should be commended. Unless you consider George Washington Carver.

George Washington Carver is one of the most famous African-Americans in history. His work with the peanut led to amazing discoveries and inventions we still use today. When Henry Wallace was a young boy, George Washington Carver baby sat for him at times and instilled in Wallace a love for agriculture. It was that love that led to Wallace’s work, which led to those laws which led to Borlaug saving 2 billion people. So, really, George Washington Carver is the hero. Unless of course you consider Moses and Susan.

Moses and Susan were slave owners in the south during that dark time of American history. They owned George’s parents. Some night raiders  (pre-cursors to the KKK) kidnapped George, his parents, and his siblings then rode off. Moses hired someone to go rescue them. Only the week-old infant George was found (his parents were presumably murdered). When slavery was finally abolished, Moses and Susan raised George as their own and gave him their last name…Carver.  They lovingly raised him and encouraged his education, which led him to those amazing discoveries. Had they never rescued him, he would never have baby sat for Henry Wallace and instill in Wallace that love for agriculture. Wallace in turn would never have pursued a career in agriculture which led to the laws which led to Borlaug saving 2 billion people. So really, Moses and Susan Carver are the real heroes of this story. Unless…

Yours is a Wonderful Life

I think you get the picture. You have no idea what small thing you’re doing now will have massive repercussions down the road.  Perhaps some wedding album or wedding video you create saves a marriage which allows someone to be born who goes on to greatness. Perhaps some non-profit video you create becomes instrumental in an organization raising funds that saves thousands of children from sex trafficking. Perhaps some movie you make inspires millions of people to change their eating habits and therefore saves countless lives. You just never know.

Don’t doubt the value of what you do, or the meaning of your place on this planet. Lives may depend on it.

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