FTLComm - Tisdale - September 16, 2000

the concept

There have been a lot of references to the chaos theory in Ensign over its two years of publication and almost certainly there will be many more. This discussion about the theory is by no means a definitive one, but rather calls attention to the concept and gives some examples.



correctly felt
that their
action had
some influence

Yesterday, the students at TMSS staged a full day protest rally along main street to draw attention to the serious harm being created by the teacher / government dispute over their contract and the subsequent work-to-rule action taken by the teachers. As the afternoon wore on, the announcement came that the negotiators, after a day of meeting, had reached a tentative agreement. The students correctly felt that their action had some influence on the decision. In discussing this outcome, one teacher snickered at the cause and effect, as he also quite correctly interpreted the events of the day more as a coincidence. How, could both perceptions be correct?



equal and
opposite reaction

We have to go to Sir Isaac Newton, the English mathematician and scientist who contemplated the descent of an apple from a tree and went on to proclaim a series of laws of physics that are very helpful in describing reality. Newton proclaimed that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Now we all know he was talking about physical matter, but the fundamental principle of the chaos theory is that this law of Newton's also applies to every action and reaction of every person or being living on this little rock hurling around an obscure star we call "Sole"



matters and

Once you come to terms with the idea that everything matters, you begin to appreciate the importance of some of the really apparently insignificant decisions people might make. Yet at the same time, we realise that by the same measure of action/reaction even the most momentous decision and action, may have relatively small consequences, because of its connections with other seemingly insignificant actions. To sum it up, the chaos theory identifies that everything matters and nothing matters, at the same time.



whole planet
and interacts

It is weather that perhaps best illustrates this concept. Yesterday, just as today, the sky was miraculously free of cloud, yet just at supper time last night this curiously fragmented low level formation of cumulus dashed over us. In the picture below we can even see its own shadows falling upon itself. The atmosphere, the blanket of air that surrounds our planet, is not the source of weather, it is the result. The absorption of heat by the vast hydrosphere (water covering of the planet) and the way it gives up that heat, and with it water vapour, which condenses to form cloud, is the engine that drives weather formations. But this process can be both brutal and copacetic all at the same time. An unstable weather mass one place influences wind patterns and temperature differentials in another. Everything is related, over the whole planet and interacts like a single living organism.






attitudes shape
the consequences
for others

Such is the behaviour of individuals and groups of individuals. Their actions, beliefs and attitudes shape the consequences for others. The Macdonalds restaurant chain decided a few years ago, that it would be nice to introduce a new hamburger they call the Mac BLT and almost over night, they created a shortage of tomatoes in North America. The sandwich was successful, and the because of the numbers of restaurants involved, the increased demand for tomatoes, overwhelmed the production levels of the time.



the momentum
and pressure
was mounting

Did the students of TMSS leaving classes and waving signs at passing motorists Friday influence the decisions made in Regina. Absolutely, though not directly, the students were voicing their legitimate and sincere feelings about what was happening to them and they were sharing the same feelings as students in Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current and Yorkton, all of whom had held similar demonstrations. The politicians, and the teacher negotiators knew that they had to reach an agreement, both to get the teachers back to their regular roles, and to provide for the needs of Saskatchewan's students. Though the Tisdale protest may not have even been known by those at the table, the momentum and pressure was mounting throughout the province and without that pressure, no agreement would have been reached. Everything counts.



confusing reality
that contributes
to what happens

The choices we make each day, what we do, what we buy, whom we talk to and what we say, is part of the collective, and often very confusing reality, that contributes to what happens. It was with the advent of computer technology, that scientists in Arizona discovered that tracking seemingly insignificant and unrelated events, there were correlation's and outcomes that were being determined at the smallest level, rather then at the highest level, of decision making. Politicians in democratic countries determined the limitations of power when they discover that the public will compl,y or go along with, decisions with which they agree, and pass a law or regulation that is not accepted, is a waste of time. Recent gun legislation is an excellent example, though accepted in parts of the country, in other places where it makes no scene, it is being ignored by the public and law enforcement as well.



phantom of
public opinion

It is likely that as you read this, you have already realised that the most important link in seeing that things work, is the reliance we have on news gathering and accurate portrayal of events. Perhaps no other element in society, other than gossip, is as important in determined what happens and what important decisions are made. The phantom of public opinion is being determined on a minute by minute basis as people, individuals, formulate beliefs on what they know, or think they know. Everything counts.