It is a mathematical fact that the casting of this pebble from my hand alters the centre of gravity of the universe.
- Thomas Carlyle
While it's true that the casting of a pebble by one person literally alters the centre of gravity of both the planet he is on and the universe, neither takes notice of the change.
Does that mean the change is insignificant? Not at all. You wouldn't notice a difference if I threw a stone across a field. But then you are so insensitive that you don't think about the fact that you are spinning around in space at nearly 1000 miles per hour (1600 kph) as the planet you stand, sit or sleep on rotates on its axis. This in addition to the fact that you race at thousands of times that speed as the earth revolves around the sun each year.
If an asteroid were to head toward earth, with a high likelihood of collision, it could be diverted from its course with a comparatively small tap by a spacecraft sent to change its path. That small tap, over time, would not just divert the asteroid from its collision course with earth, it would fundamentally change its course around the solar system forever. The "small" tap would have to happen soon enough to make a minor course change significant over a great distance so it would avoid hitting us.
Science is learning that, as we search deeper into our past, all the major extinction thresholds were caused by impacts from asteroids or comets. Just last year we learned that what wiped out the wooly mammoth and its giant fellow earth dwellers, as well as the Clovis people that first inhabited North America, likely resulted from the explosion just north of the Great Lakes of an asteroid.some 13,000 years ago. A millennium-long cold spell we know as one of the Ice Ages resulted.
All the known human inhabitants of a large continent were wiped out from starvation because they didn't have the technology we have today to divert the course of the asteroid. A small tap at the right point of time would have made a world of difference 13,000 years ago.
Small actions that seem insignificant at the time can make enormous differences years later. Jesus of Nazareth likely didn't know that his words would be revered by nearly a third of the world's population two millennia later. Before him, Abraham wouldn't have known that his devotion would be the beginning of great religions that today encompass over half the people of the world.
The point is that doing the right thing when we have the opportunity to do it can make all the difference in the world in years to come. Even if very few people notice it at the time.
The people who are remembered over time are those who began something that changed the course of history by their words or their actions.
True, history books mark the passage of great warriors more than the actions of gentle folk. But perhaps it was the gentle folk who made the great changes through their small actions. Anyone can make war, only the intelligent can manage peace. It was the gentle folk of our past that made us who we are today, rather than primitive warriors and hunter-gatherers,
A few words here, a bump or nudge there can cause huge changes down the road.
The only things that can prevent such changes from happening are those who believe that nothing they do will matter later. Or that life is much worse now than it used to be. Both are clearly, unequivocally, provably wrong.
Do the right thing. It will matter. Knowing that it will matter later will be your reward.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book that shows parents and grandparents how to teach children in such ways that they will be able to make significant changes in their lives and their world confidently and competently as adults.
Learn more at http://billallin.com