Blog Post by
Ruling Elder, Joyce Wilks-Love
Cote Brilliante Presbyterian Church
2022 Presbytery Moderator
For my birthday in 2015, my cousin gave me the book “The Butterfly Effect”, by Andy Andrews (New York Times bestselling author). Initially, I did not read the book, but this year, through a quest for new reading material, I picked it up and read it from cover to cover. In fact, I have probably read it at least three times. One would probably wonder, why I read the book so often, my only answer is – I find the concept fascinating. Possibly, you will too.
Author Andy Andrews writes …,” In 1963, Edward Lorenz presented a hypothesis to the New York Academy of Science. His theory simply stated……A butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air – eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet”
Lorenz’s idea was ridiculed at the conference and the participants found it to be ridiculous, but also fascinating. So, the butterfly effect caught on in the sci-fi community and was used for decades as both a myth and legend in comic books and “B” rated movies. Approximately, thirty years after its introduction to the New York Academy of Science, physics professors from colleges and universities around the world concluded that the butterfly effect was “authentic, accurate, and viable” and soon became a law, now known as – The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions. In fact, scientific research has proven the butterfly effect has interacted with the initial movement of all forms of matter, including PEOPLE.
Author, Andy Andrews shares this story which I found very thought-provoking; and indicates how PEOPLE are participants in the butterfly effect.
On Friday, April 2, 2004, a TV news anchor honored their person for their weekly news segment.
Person of the Week: Ninety-one-year-old, Norman Borlaug.
The TV viewers were perplexed – Who? Is this a mistake? – expecting a familiar name. But Norman Borlaug, unknown to the viewers, in the early 1940s hybridized high yield, disease-resistant corn, and wheat for arid climates. He created a seed product that grew and regenerated where seeds had not grown before. Norman’s seed product had saved at least two billion people throughout the world – the dust bowl of Western Africa, the Southwestern US desert, South and Central American, the plains of Siberia, areas of Europe and Asia – from famine.
Oh, oh … author Andrews said, the anchorperson really did make a mistake, it was not Norman Borlaug who saved more than two billion lives, but Henry Wallace -one of the Vice-President’s (1941- 1945) under President, Franklin D Roosevelt and former Secretary of Agriculture. As Vice President, Henry Wallace created a station in Mexico with the only goal to hybridize corn and wheat for arid climates. Wallace hired, young Norman Borlaug to run it. Borlaug received – the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work. Could Henry Wallace be credited with saving over two billion people and counting through the creation of the station in Mexico? Should Wallace be Person of the Week?
Or possibly, George Washington Carver? When Carver was nineteen and a student at Iowa State University, his dairy science professor would allow his six-year-old son, Henry Wallace, to go on “botanical expeditions” with Carver on Saturdays and Sundays. George Washington Carver instilled in Henry Wallace a love for plants and what they could do for humanity. Could Carver be credited for flapping his wings with Henry Wallace who created the station in Mexico, which saved over two billion people and counting? Should Carver be – Person of the Week?
Or, should it be the farmer, Moses from Diamond, Missouri, who didn’t believe in slavery? You see, the Quantrill’s Raiders burned Moses’s barn, shot several people, and dragged off a woman named Mary Washington, who refused to let go of her infant son George. Moses’s wife, Susan intervened with written letters to neighboring farmers and was able to locate the Raiders. In two days, a meeting was set up for Moses to make a trade. Moses rode to the designated location, where he met the bandits, who had sacks with holes on their faces for eyes. The Raiders threw Moses a dirty burlap bag and Moses gave them the only horse they had left on the farm. Moses tucked the small naked, almost dead, baby boy into his shirt for warmth and walked through the night and into the next morning until he got back to his wife, Susan. Moses and Susan agreed to honor baby George’s mother by promising him an education and giving him their name, Carver. So…could Moses and Susan be credited with flapping their wings with George Washington Carver, who instilled in, six-year-old Henry Wallace, a love for plants and what they could do for humanity? Should Moses and Susan be – Persons of the Week?
Is it really possible to determine the Person of the Week? Whose action was the most important? If we go back to Lorenz’s definition ….
“A butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air – eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet”
In my humble opinion, I interpret the butterfly effect for people to mean – each person’s thoughts, deeds, and actions yesterday, today, and into the future impact the lives of others. Author, Andy Andrews, simply states – “Your LIFE and what you do with it today MATTERS FOREVER”.
As I reflect upon the evolution of Giddings – Lovejoy Presbytery, I believe that Samuel Giddings and Elijah Parish Lovejoy are part of the butterfly effect. Both Giddings and Lovejoy flapped their wings along with many others to help achieve the presbytery’s vision throughout the years. Can YOU name some others?
I have been given a great responsibility as the 2022 Moderator for Giddings -Lovejoy Presbytery. It is my prayer that my thoughts and actions will continue to invoke the butterfly effect.