Chaos Theory is an area of math that deals with complex systems which seem to appear to act randomly because of the unpredictable nature of what’s being observed… but, in reality, there’s a very well-defined set of deterministic rules underlying what’s going on; it’s just that the initial conditions make all the difference… and, minor variances in those initial conditions change everything.
Indeed, that’s where the concept of the “Butterfly Effect” comes from… that a little butterfly flapping its wings in Japan today might be responsible for a hurricane on the other side of the planet next week… and it’s true. Weather is a hugely complex chaotic system that the world’s biggest supercomputers endeavour to model and predict… and that’s exactly what they’ve found. Sneeze at the wrong time, and everything changes.
Without getting into an entire philosophical discussion about Free Will — whether everything is pre-determined or not — I think we can agree that your one little action today can have a profound effect on the entire planet, without you even knowing about it. You showed up a few minutes late to your dentist appointment, which set the whole schedule back a bit… and some patient three hours after you had to wait, and then was late leaving and had to hurry back to some meeting, but was speeding and caused an accident… nobody was seriously hurt, but the paramedics that were called to the site would’ve otherwise been able to attend to some old guy who had a heart attack… and that delay meant the difference between the old guy living and dying. See? Don’t be late to your dentist appointment.
And what if that old guy that died was the swing vote in parliament with respect to a bill that would introduce sweeping changes with respect to environmental responsibility… and now, without his vote, the bill doesn’t pass… and it has to wait seven years to get passed, by which time it’s too late, the planet is doomed. Antarctica melts, sea levels rise, global temperatures go off the charts… all because you, seven years ago, couldn’t be bothered to show up in time. Way to go.
Interestingly, there’s now some evidence that this entire pandemic could easily have been avoided… could easily have never happened… if only a few key things hadn’t aligned. Like, the initial patient zero… if that guy hadn’t gone to that Wuhan wet market, and just stayed home because he wasn’t feeling well… and/or if he’d gone to the market but not interacted closely with the one or two people he infected… and/or those people, in turn had stayed home or been elsewhere or not breathed right at that moment. Who knows. Unfortunately, all of the stars aligned in the worst possible way… the necessary initial conditions… and here we are.
Not that there’s anything we could’ve done to prevent it, of course. This chaotic system we live in, whether it’s a simulation or reality of an invention of our consciousness… whatever it is, we’re at its mercy. We just do what we do, and things happen… c’est la vie. What can you do with this life? …just live it.
But also, seriously… just in case, don’t be late to dentist appointments. It can really mess things up.