Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters / by Andy Andrews

"Every single thing you do matters. You have been created as one of a kind. You have been created in order to make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world."
Among the less heralded heroes of the Civil War was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a college professor with no prior military experience who rose through the ranks of the Union army ultimately making Brigadier General by the war's end. At the Battle of Gettysburg, the then Colonel Chamberlain did one of the most daring (some would say stupid) things any commanding officer could ever do: he ordered a charge of his infantry unit--dwindled down to only 80 men and all out of ammunition excepting their bayonets--down from their elevated post towards the oncoming Confederate brigade of well over 400 men, all armed with adequate ammunition. The gamble paid off. Chamberlain and his men were able to hinge in the Confederates, capturing a multitude of troops and securing the strategic high ground known as Little Round Top. Historians have pinned Chamberlain's charge as the critical juncture in the battle which turned the tide in favor of the Union army who ultimately won the Civil War, preserved the United States as a nation (not a conglomeration of federated states like Europe which it is speculated that America would have become had the South won) and aided in establishing the "America" of today. Chamberlain's charge changed the course of American and, in effect, world history, making him one of the most recognizable cases of one rather ordinary individual altering the course of human events.
Most people are familiar with the theory of the Butterfly Effect in which a butterfly flapping its wings in Asia can indelibly alter the shifts in wind currents thousands of miles away so much so that a hurricane is started in Africa. For some, this has been translated to mean that the smallest human actions can have the largest impact on mankind. Andy Andrews certainly thinks so. The author and motivational speaker was once homeless, living on the streets in various towns along the Gulf Coast at his lowest point. In the last twenty years, he's transformed his poverty into prosperity, inspired numerous people struggling through hard times and been featured on various media outlets throughout the country. In addition to charming stories like the one above involving General Chamberlain, Andrews latest inspirational book includes other anecdotes on individuals who've made a difference simply by taking a stand for what's right and acting as opposed to doing nothing in times of crisis. Actions matter is what Andrews tries to get across in this very tiny book which could probably be read in one 15-20 minute sitting. What you do matters so much so that sometimes it can alter the course of history. (158.1 ANDREWS)

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