Book Review - The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters by Andy Andrews
Andy Andrews' book The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters is one of those small gift books that will take you about 10 minutes to read (if that), but that has an interesting message that will tweak your viewpoint on life. You've likely heard of the "butterfly effect", where it's said that the beating of a butterfly's wings can stir air modules that will stir other air modules, until you end up with a hurricane in China. While taking that scenario literally might be hard to accept, the underlying truth is valid... a small action taken at one point in time can ripple out and have enormous implications.
Andrews tells the story of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a college professor who was also a colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War. At the battle of Gettysburg, he was told that he had to hold the end of a 80,000 troop line strung out across miles. His platoon repelled a number of Confederate attacks, but attrition took its toll and they were without ammo (as well as most of the soldiers they started with). As the Confederate soldiers reformed for what would be the final attack, Chamberlain found out that all his commanding officers had been killed, and if he failed to hold the line, the Union Army would likely have to surrender or face mass slaughter. Faced with the choice of doing nothing or doing something, he ordered his ragtag band of soldiers to fix bayonets and charge. The Confederates, shocked at seeing an offensive being launched at them, figured the Union side must have been reinforced, and started to retreat. In short order, they ended up surrendering to Chamberlain, and he carried out his orders to hold the line.
Andrews then plays the "what if" scenarios out... what if Chamberlain had given up? Experts predict that if the Battle of Gettysburg had been lost, the Confederates would have won the war. America would have looked like Europe with a number of smaller, fragmented countries. America would not have existed to help stop the tyrants of World War 2 from overrunning Asia and Europe. And so on, and so on. All from the decision of one man standing on a brick wall, giving the order to charge in the face of overwhelming odds.
While you can make the argument that Andrews is looking only at the positive side of things, I think the fact remains that many small decisions can and do reverberate over time and have far-reaching effects. And if we live with that understanding and purpose in mind as Andrews suggests, our lives can take on a new sense of meaning and purpose.
If you've read other Andrews books in the past, you might have already heard this story (specifically, his book The Noticer). And if you're looking for something of substance to explore this idea further, The Butterfly Effect isn't it (it's only 109 pages and literally should take you no more than 10 minutes to read). But in terms of material for you to contemplate and implement into your life, The Butterfly Effect does deliver.
Obtained From: Publisher