One of my favorite notions from Chaos Theory is the butterfly effect. This notion stems from observation that tiniest inputs into a dynamic system can nevertheless effect direction and outcome. Input such as a butterfly flapping its wings.
It’s pleasant to hear the phrase “butterfly effect”. Image of a gentle, delicate, beautifully colored butterfly, a sunny day, and flowers, instantly appears. An image of ‘pure innocence’ at work, lovely.
When butterflys exist, and they do, analysts of extremely complex systems can’t predict outcome with certainty. Weather is one such system. Human affairs are another!
It may not have been easily predicted that in the summer of 2009, a group of otherwise ordinary American citizens would become angry and vocal, even disruptive. Their protests aim directly at government mis-management of taxpayer funding. Think of this group as a single butterfly. This group quotes Jefferson.
They toss Health Care Reform into their list of offenses, or potential offenses. (I happen to disagree with them. I view reform as essential and particularly so in economic terms as householder vulnerability is extreme. I also believe health care is a citizen right, essential to all that matters to this vocal group: capacity to enjoy lives and productivity. I believe pooling dollars and vulnerability, maximizing efficiency of delivery, giving citizens free choice of when and how to use public, non-profit insurance, is the most economically sound program we can offer ourselves, our small business operators – again all that matters to this vocal group. Granted citizen oversight must be firmly in place and active.)
Citizen oversight is essential and is what we (the ordinary citizen) have not been practicing. If warring is curtailed, if corporate health insurance cartels are put out of operation at the same time government excess is brought to heel – we’ll really “have a good thing going.”!
Back to the unexpected (butterfly) citizen uprising. Enter a second butterfly– aren’t they lovely! Keep health insurance in the picture for a minute. There is a group of citizens firmly committed to single-payer. See my personal health reform statements above for a take on this group’s point of view. These citizens are also active and vocal. They have been arrested. They continue to argue, to persuade, to make their case. They are not ready to go away any more than the first group. They quote Jefferson.
Now a third butterfly! This one something of a hybrid of the first two. Folks of this group find statements by Ron Paul important and insightful. They share this with the ‘anti-government’ group. But they also support single-payer in health reform. They are not necessarily anti-government, but want government to use tax money for bottom line essential whole citizen need – nothing more. They quote Jefferson.
Believe it or not, there is a fourth butterfly. Also a hybrid but a different hybrid. Folks of this group have tracked, and developed commitment to, “best human meaning and practice” as it developed out of “New Age” exploration. This group is inclined to stay out of direct political involvement, but it’s a sizeable group. Some of them blend Ron Paul’s insights with interest in the autonomous individual as a member of the One Universal Family.They observe politics from a distance and across time. They examine political/economic/military based conspiracy (behind the scenes power play). Their facts are worth a listen. They declare “politics as usual” finished. Done. They quote Jefferson.
In an earlier piece “A Nation of Clumps” I lamented the “separating out” of groups from awareness of, interest in, the common weal. I now experience rising curiosity at the passion these groups share for Jefferson! And butterflies certainly appeal to the imagination better than ‘clumps’ !
It happens Jefferson believed in small government, the need to curtail big money interests, and the need for citizens to pool efforts and resources to meet common need. (Given medical practices in his time, it’s hardly surprising “universal health care” was not an available idea!) (Yet another aside – his personal diet emphasized fruit and vegetables with “meat as a small side dish.”! He also thought everyone should at have a garden, should seek to experience profound connection between man and nature, should practice intentional civility and respect toward others … and should know something of philosophy and history. He was not overly fond of flags or showy nationalism – actually he was a stickler for Principle!)
Asides aside … a connected passion for Jefferson? Hmm … ??? … !!!
Can Jeffersonian thought offer common ground? Can we find ourselves learning about our human condition, about our approach to government, our understanding of economics, our understanding of inherent dangers of “ignorance” if we do not ask questions and seek learning?
Can we use our personal wisdom to ‘marry’ ‘eternal truths’ in the Jeffersonian view with conditions as we find them, local, national, and global, in the 21st Century?
The delight in a “butterfly effect” is that it’s “open in outcome”. Our intent, whatever it is, points us toward a future we maybe can only scarcely imagine today. Can we come together around Jefferson’s legacy?
We are going there (to the future). We might as well take a really long view and decide best outcome, overall, for everyone. We might as well set a goal that inspires us to “be the best we can be”. Jefferson trusted the capacity for this in the individual. He trusted individuals to stand in independence, but also to support one another in community. Intended outcome was national well-being.
We might as well be visionary, thoughtful and imaginative, as was Jefferson, when we aim ourselves toward the future. As we go along, we can measure progress of self, group, and government, in light of our goal, our intended outcome.
Strongly recommended website: http://www.jeffersonhour.org/ (excellent interview style archived podcasts bring Jefferson to life, and much more on Jefferson at this site.)
Jeffersonian thought might be our springboard as well as our touchstone. I think Thomas Jefferson would be honored.
(“Good Day to You, Citizen” – website quote) MaggieAnn