Saturday, September 08, 2007

Small Change

The butterfly effect is simplification of the notion that small variations in the initial condition of a nonlinear dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system. So the wind created by a butterfly fluttering its wings could change the atmosphere enough to cause a tornado (or prevent one, I suppose). That's chaos. A similar and much older notion is that an infinite number of monkeys hitting the keys of an infinite number of typewriters (see how old this one is?) could eventually peck out the complete works of William Shakespeare.
That, as a long-dead aunt used to say, is a load of horse-puckeys. Proceeds from the legendary Concert for Bangla Desh, despite the best intentions, didn't do anything to help people other than the concert promoters. A recent scam involving people sending money to buy plastic bracelets that would demonstrate their concern for world hunger did not generate any money that was actually used to combat world hunger or buy food for anybody but the people who thought up the scam.
I believe in charity, and I believe in trying to help others, especially those less fortunate. At the same time, though, I am also coming off an experience that says even one person trying to have a positive effect upon another probably won't.
So if, just for example, I couldn't even help one person get on the right track without failing horribly and hurting both of us in the process, how could a stadium full of ticket-buying rock fans change the course of famine in a country so corrupt it can't even provide basic garbage-collection services, let alone have a functioning economy?
I got my head straight after being hit on it hard with a thrown dinosaur. (Yes, some other things were involved.. It's a bit complicated.)
But the point is that I now believe the best help is self-help, I now see. Apart from medical necessity, I understand that, at the end of the day, the only way we can solve a problem, overcome an addiction, break a bad habit, or get out of debt, out of a bad relationship, a bad job, a bad life in general, is to just do it. We are, as Maurice Maeterlinck put it, alone, ``absolutely alone on this chance planet; and, amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us.''
Be nice to your dog.

Eric Clapton and Sheryl Crow do one of her best songs:

And Cheryl notes, A Change Would Do You Good
And Eric (and his Crossroads rehab effort) Eric Clapton, keeps trying to Change the World

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