Everything we do causes ripples. This was brought home to me by watching “Surprise, Surprise” on TV the other night. In case you don’t know of it, this is a fairly sloppy TV programme about rewarding people who have been doing charitable things in their lives. The rewards are typically getting some celebrity to meet the person or arranging a special trip to somewhere they have always wanted to visit. The one that got me thinking was the Scottish lady who had over the years sponsored a child in Uganda as well as raising money for a charitable children’s home. The Ugandan boy she sponsored involved sending regular small amounts of money which went towards providing an education for him, without which he would have never been able to complete his studies as his parents were struggling to buy food to eat and had no spare money for the school fees. After completing his education he has become a teacher and enlisted the help of the community to grow food to help feed the children in school to help them and their families support the next generations through education.
Now, if this Scottish lady hadn’t sponsored this boy over the years, he would not be a teacher today and his pupils may not even be in school. They would have much poorer prospects and the cycle of poverty would continue. Casting the initial stone into the pond has caused ripples to spread out, small yet significant effects on the people touched. It makes you wonder just exactly what effects your actions make in the world. It is easy to consider everything you do and say as being trivial and inconsequential as you are just one person amongst billions. A small grain of sand in an endless plain of desert. Yet even a simple action causes a ripple, a small effect that triggers a chain of consequences.
I don’t know if you have ever seen the 2000 movie Pay It Forward with Kevin Spacey? The movie introduces the concept of instead of paying someone back for a good deed, do something good for three people which they then in turn have to pay forward by doing a good turn for another three people and getting these three people to each do the same for three more people. In this way, good deeds ripple outwards in a geometric fashion to spread out through society.
I believe this also works in reverse. Bad deeds also spread out in ripples. Another movie, Flatliners, brings this up in some way when medical students experimenting with near death experiences end up bringing back something from the afterlife each time they die (heartbeat goes to flatline) then are brought back to life by their friends. Every action we take has some effect and that effect may not be what we wish for, so think carefully about what you do and how you act.