Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect?
In a nutshell, the butterfly effect is the far off, unpredictable, and possibly dramatic consequences of a seemingly small act.
It is called the butterfly effect because the concept is often illustrated with the saying along the lines of "a butterfly flaps its wings in China and a tornado occurs in Texas."
So the obvious solution to this problem is to kill all the butterflies.
If this seems a ridiculous solution to such a problem, I will agree with you.
But the notion that all butterflies must die seems to be the solution promoted by the media in reaction to the hospital prank perpetrated by two Australian DJ's. I am frankly shocked and a little perplexed by the reaction to the prank.
For those of you living under a rock, Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian called a London hospital pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles in order to obtain information about the newly expecting Princess Kate.
Tragically, the nurse who was fooled into cooperating, Jacintha Saldanha, seems to have taken her own life two days later.
The death of Jacintha Saldanha by her own hand is a tragedy for certain and I pray for her soul and for her family. But the notion that the DJs are responsible for her death is ridiculous.
There is something backward in the human psyche that often demands a scapegoat for senseless tragedies and makes excuses when someone is really to blame.. And yes, Jacintha Saldanha's death is a senseless tragedy, but to some degree one of her own making. Presumably nobody made her take her own life, she did that. But that does not seem to satisfy our need for pretend justice, so we look for others to blame. We need a scapegoat.
At the very worst the DJs behavior was juvenile, insensitive, rude, and prying. But the idea that a suicide is a reasonably foreseeable consequence is ludicrous.
But we must have scapegoats.
We can see the same thing happen when some loon shoots up a movie theater. We blame the movie, we blame the psychologist that may have met him, we blame the school he attended. There is no logic in it, other than there is nothing satisfying in blaming somebody with mental illness, so others must substitute.
Even though there is no justice in it, it is in our nature to find a scapegoat to take the fall. I know this and so do you. Somebody has to take the blame for our sin and it certainly isn't gonna be the one actually responsible.
What is amazing is that we have a Savior, the least deserving ever among us, who volunteered for the job. To be our scapegoat.
And like our Lord, the caterpillar cocoons itself in a death shroud only to emerge as something beautiful, a butterfly. And sometimes we unfairly blame the far-off butterfly for our choices because that is better than putting the blame where it really belongs. Alas, all butterflies must die. It is easier that way.