There is a theory expressed in some places that claims that the beat of a butterfly's wings in one part of the world can create a hurricane in another. I am no physicist or chaos-theorist, so I opt to acquiesce on this idea, all the while being quite sure in my unqualified heart that it is bunkum!
As I spend more time in this ministry of mine, I encounter more and more people. Every single human creature has a story, and I am willing to bet that they have one thing in common (or else know personally of such a thing close at hand).
I believe that, in the main, the fractures and disputes, wars and conflicts, turmoil and suffering, needless slaughter, lifelong antipathies, deeply set quarrels, career ending, family smashing, sibling dividing, friend destroying phenomena are not the products of great single events. It would be easy to say that all marriages end because of an affair, because of violence, or because of someone else - but I am not sure that is the case. It would be easy to say that siblings fall out for decades because of a Last Will and Testament, of greed or jealousy - but I am not sure that is the case. It would be easy to blame all wars on Archduke Ferdinand-type events, the lit touchpaper, the invasion - but I am not sure that is the case.
I think the cause is altogether more mundane. I think the cause is banal in and of itself.
Every conflict (with the very rare exception) I have heard about in all the ways I sit and listen to people talk have started not in the seat of a significant event, but in the wake of what can only be termed a 'careless whisper', an ill-thought phrase uttered thoughtlessly, a rebuke that was a fraction too heavy. Equally, I have heard of conflicts that are seated in the glint on an eye, a passing expression, the interpreted inference that wasn't intended. That beat of a butterfly wing, in the moment, seems to cause little damage - but the fracture starts and simply widens with time until a hair-line crack becomes a gap becomes a fissure becomes an aching chasm.
This is both an alarming conclusion and a reassuring one. Everyone of us has the wings of a butterfly and the power to cause a hurricane. Mostly we would never intend to, but the road to Hell and all that ... Equally, we have the power to prevent wars and disputes that destroy lives, simply by taking a moment more care in an argument, with throwaway comments. We can ignite a smoldering fire in someone with consequences that can never be predicted, or we can quell one (or indeed avoid one).
As I sit and write this, it occurs to me with some measure of concern the increasing power to build or destroy in the context of social-media. If only people read our words as we intended them to be read!