On butterlies and what really matters

The “butterfly effect” is a phenomenon whereby a minute localized change, like a butterfly flapping its wings, in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.

A single rock could cause a stream to run in a slightly different direction. After that rock has been eroded by the water, the water continues to run as it has, because now there is more erosion where the water has flowed, and the water, of course, continues down the established course.

We seem to be living in a world full of ruts, full of phenomena that do not serve us, but are part of the landscape. We grow up surrounded by them, so we do not tend to think about them, especially if they do not particularly affect us. Sometimes, we even internalize concepts simply because they seem to be the norm.

I am someone who would be categorized politically as a liberal. I was raised by parents who would be labeled conservative. Issue by issue, we tend to agree, but based on our identities as much as our priorities, we tend to vote differently.

The Internet and 24-hour news outlets have blurred the distinction between facts, opinions, baseless statements, propaganda, and outright lies. The echo chambers on social media have perpetuated the hostile, us versus them sensibility. We are polarized.

Here, I would like to advocate for setting aside labels. Yes, I am considered a liberal politically, but I am very conservative about how I live my life. I go to church, I dislike foul and vulgar language, I barely drink. I believe strongly in personal integrity, and hold myself to high standards. I volunteer in my community every week. I suppose the reason that I am a liberal is because I believe that all people should have equal rights, human rights. To me, that is an absolute. To me, that is the most important thing our government should ensure and protect. To me, that’s an obvious moral imperative, and should not be a political position.

We should all know what our own priorities are. We should take some time to decompress from politics, and look inside ourselves. When we have identified our own priorities, not based upon any political party’s platform, or the promises or claims or warnings of any politician, but based upon our own sensibilities, we are in a better position to know what we want, for ourselves as individuals, and for the issues that face our nation. Only then can we see our world, our nation, our culture, and our fellow citizens with fresh eyes. Maybe then we can bring a fresh outlook, fresh solutions, to the issues that face us.

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