When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. John Muir
This video beautifully and inspiringly tells the story of trophic cascades, basically where the top of the food chain is disrupted and the changes that follow. In this case, the re-introduction of the wolves into Yellowstone National Park dramatically shifted the course of the entire eco-system from the migration pattern of the elk to the height of the forest to the direction of the river. A great and visual lesson on the unknown consequences of changing things in our environment, in our worlds. We know everything is connected to everything else. We intellectually understand that at the atomic level we are in an infinite sea of life. We are part of this connectedness. What we do matters. There are immediate and unseen impacts from our actions and our in-actions that reverberate out and into the future.
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. – Mother Teresa
We also know that we have to do what we were meant to do. We can not hold back. Yes to be fulfilled and to feel purposeful. But we need to do it because of the ripple effect. The waves it sends out to others. We want to help others. We do. That's why I have advocated a lifestyle of networking and mentoring to help others. If we make it part our lives, part of the way we think and act, then it is not special, it is routine. And the ripples reverberate your righteousness.
When we are wolves seeking our habitat and doing what wolves need to do. We change the world.
When we are not wolves we suppress nature, and the world changes anyway, often without us.
Intuitively we think we know what happens when we do something. The cause and effect. We naively imagine a linear relationship of our actions and the intended consequences. But what really happens and what happens if we do nothing?
The world without wolves?
But too often we wait. Wait for a sign, for the "right time". We contemplate our navels and consider our options. We take chances or we balk at choices. We embrace the fear or we regret it later. We show up or don't. We say what's on our minds or we shrink from the truth.
There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now. James Baldwin
Consider, if we do not act or speak or assist someone. Consider what happens if we do not build relationships, connect, network and mentor each other. Consider the cascade of events that would happen if you do or do not.
We have many excuses. We tend to think about obsess about what will go wrong. How I will be embarrassed. The inconvenience of the time.
If I did not talk to this woman on a plane I would not be married and have three kids!
If I did not take a pay cut for a job I loved I would not be in this career.
If my mother had not encouraged me to be a YMCA counselor I may not have become a Big Brother.
If I did not become a Big Brother I would not be writing this blog.
I am sure you have a longer and better list, if you think about it. We can think of these as special even magical moments. They are. And they aren't. The more you do the more that these moments occur. And best of all it triggers consequences well beyond you.
We know your very presence makes a difference. But we forget.
You avoid talking about politics, religion, or anything controversial or revealing about you, for fear of judgment or being politically incorrect. And your voice is silenced. People that look to you for guidance hear nothing and they adopt silence and neutrality as a mode of living. And your silence begets silence.
It is the slipperiest of slopes. You do less and less to protect what you have.
What our peers do matters. We crowd source. We pride ourselves on individualism but we can default to the lemmings. We follow and fall for what others around us do.
Maybe you need a different crowd.
We have to be ourselves. Our best selves. Our most generous, compassionate and empathetic selves.
You agree to mentor someone even though "you are busy" and there is a cascade.
What happens to everything around and after you, if you are not you?
Nature abhors a vacuum. So when you fail to act, to show up, to do what you want to do the world changes anyway. The cascade of events that follow your absence is different.
All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you. Octavia Butler
But will you be the change that starts a beautiful cascade of events that you can not predict and only your presence generates?
It all starts with giving without an expectation.
The future is helping children you will never know.
Give up on your dream and your instincts and you mess with the cosmos.
WWWD? The world needs your ripples.
Thanks for reading. John