One of the most powerful quotes I can think of comes from the anthropologist Margaret Mead (It probably wasn’t her. I’ve never found a quote that’s been correctly attributed to someone): “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
That quote always gives me hope and makes me think deeply about the consequences of my actions.
But there is an inherent premise in the quote that is very interesting. In saying this, Mead implies that people DON’T often think a small group can change the world. Or at least we didn’t back when she said it in… *Google searches her frantically, not finding anything to indicate whether she actually ever said it or when she did* …the period between 1901 and 1978 when she was alive.
But why then do all time traveling stories and theories like the Butterfly Effect ring so true for us? We all accept pretty easily that if we went back in time and disrupted something, even in a small way, we would change the future in incomprehensible ways.
Why should we not believe that our actions now can change the future? Why aren’t small changes “worth it”?
If we believe that going back in time and stepping on a butterfly would change the pace of our technological evolution by a few thousand years, it can’t be hard to believe that using a little bit less water, donating a few dollars to a worthy cause, or just being kind to someone will make an enormous difference in the future.
“…indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.