The Web of Life

Updated: Jun 19

Whoever you are, and whoever you believe you are, you have a bigger purpose than you think.

To fully understand the concept of how things are interrelated, we must understand the influence of actions. Our major decisions may seem to hold more weightage when considering what really affects us and the way we live. However, let’s try to explore how every small detail can hold great value.

Have you ever wondered why movies about time travel highlight the point to never change anything in history? Fichte says in ‘The Vocation of Man’:

“You could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole.”

The butterfly effect is a topic taught in chaos theory in mathematics. General Stanley McChrystal wrote in ‘Team of Teams’ :

“The reality is that small things in a complex system may have no effect or a massive one, and it is virtually impossible to know which will turn out to be the case.”

Another very important description of the butterfly effect can be found in ‘Good Omens’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:

“The things that change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe”

Let me try to explain this effect with a simpler example.:

Hypothetically, you’re hanging out with a friend and a small action of yours catches their eye. This action may seem absolutely irrelevant to you, but your friend takes an impression from it. This may lead them to thinking about it from time to time, leading to a more influencing nature.

This action may hold a bigger place in their life events than it had for you, or it may have no effect at all. As said above by General Stanley McChrystal, it’s virtually impossible to know for sure.

It’s important to understand that we have a bigger responsibility in this world than we know of. Every action of ours can influence our own, or someone else’s, lives entirely.

In the same way, we may not notice that our actions and the events in our lives may have often occurred with the oblivious helping hand of someone else.

Let’s think about it with a broader perspective now.

Who are you, really? What is the perceived image of you in the minds of others? How many people have you influenced in ways you don’t even know of? How have people influenced you to be who you are, doing what you’re doing, at this very moment?

These are questions people tend to throw into a void, not bothering to waste their time by thinking about it. After all, it only makes sense to avoid questions you cannot answer.

If we relate to the theme of ‘Soul’, our purpose in this world is much greater than we know. We are meant to influence people, be influenced by people, witness certain events, be the center of certain events, and so much more.

Humans themselves are nothing compared to how big ‘existence’ really is. Taking space as an example, we live on earth in the milky way. The milky way is a single galaxy. Our universe consists of numerous galaxies. However, it doesn’t stop there. The multiverse consists of numerous universes, but space is still much bigger than that. In such a comparison, a single person’s daily problems seem incredibly small but they still matter. We serve a purpose in the grander scheme of things knowingly and unknowingly.

Remember that a character in the background and the main character are both needed to create the scene and give it meaning. You are the main character of your own story, but you are also the background character in the stories of others. No matter what, you still play a very important role.

These are some examples from FS blog ( ) that show how some seemingly tiny details have managed to create dramatic changes:

  • The bombing of Nagasaki. The US initially intended to bomb the Japanese city of Kuroko, with the munitions factory as a target. On the day the US planned to attack, cloudy weather conditions prevented the factory from being seen by military personnel as they flew overhead. The airplane passed over the city three times before the pilots gave up. Locals huddled in shelters heard the hum of the airplane preparing to drop the nuclear bomb and prepared for their destruction. Except Kuroko was never bombed. Military personnel decided on Nagasaki as the target due to improved visibility. The implications of that split-second decision were monumental. We cannot even begin to comprehend how different history might have been if that day had not been cloudy. Kuroko is sometimes referred to as the luckiest city in Japan, and those who lived there during the war are still shaken by the near-miss.

  • The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. A little-known fact about the event considered to be the catalyst for both world wars is that it almost didn’t happen. On the 28th of June, 1914, a teenage Bosnian-Serb named Gavrilo Princip went to Sarajevo with two other nationalists to assassinate the Archduke. The initial assassination attempt failed; a bomb or grenade exploded beneath the car behind the Archduke’s and wounded its occupants. The route was supposed to have been changed after that, but the Archduke’s driver didn’t get the message. Had he actually taken the alternate route, Princip would not have been on the same street as the car and would not have had the chance to shoot the Archduke and his wife that day. Were it not for a failure of communication, both world wars might never have happened.

Through these examples, one may understand just how big and how small the concept of the butterfly effect really is. Some details may have been wildly unfitting to any other circumstances, but relevant to a singular purpose. We cannot predict what events occurring all across the world may lead up to a worldwide disaster in the future. They may be completely irrelevant, or they may be the first step in a thousand-step journey.

It truly fascinates me to compare such a broad concept to my own life, as you may be doing to your own. I often wonder about statements such as ‘What if (x event) had not happened in my life, would everything be different today?’. The truth is, yes it very possibly could change my entire fate. A small step taken in a different direction on a random day in my past could even risk my existence in the present. What if the day we went to school, like any other day, we decided to take a different route because of traffic or other circumstances? Would we run into a life-threatening accident or avoid one entirely?

Which leads me to the thought, how many times have our small decisions helped us avoid dire events like death or paralyzing accidents? How are we walking the earth with such naivety without knowing how many times we cheated an ill fate just because we took a small step in the opposite direction? These kinds of thoughts have you wondering whether you have some kind of guardian angel looking after you at all times, but even that cannot explain how we share good and bad events in our lives.

We can never know what fate had planned for us without us knowing. Maybe the misfortunes we have faced in the past could have easily been someone else’s to encounter. However, every tiny detail had a purpose. You are meant to be where you are right now, the way you may be reading this article and thinking the way that you are.

This article is being read by you, and that will also have an effect whether you’re aware of it or not. You might take away something after reading this or you may not. Whatever may happen, it will take its individual effect.

Or maybe it will have no effect at all.

The butterfly effect and the web of life is a terrifyingly beautiful concept to think about whenever you may remember it. However, it’s important not to get too lost in the ‘what if’s’ of life. Instead, use this information to your advantage.

Remember that your smallest actions can make or break your future, and take it lightheartedly along the way. Try to do your future self tiny favors from time to time. Go online and search up some articles for some brain-food and maybe, just maybe, it may help you save the world someday.

Thank you for letting me introduce you to the lovely little world of theories and philosophical ideals.


Natalia Abbasi is an in-house writer and editor at Perspective.

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