I have had a lot of relatives die lately. Four since December. They have all been advanced in years, and none of their deaths could be called unexpected. As can be the case when a loved one dies, each death has occasioned a lot of remembering for me. I have remembered funny things, like my father getting out of his car at the George Washington Bridge asking for change, since he had driven into the exact change lane without exact change, or a house where there were always good things to eat, or instances where a love of the Red Sox was fostered. In fact, it is not unusual. Many of us are filled with stories, using the amazing faculty of memory to make past experiences present again, to make them real once more.
Remember James Carville, the strategist for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992, was known for the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Meant for the internal team, it became known outside and is often cited as a reason Bill Clinton won the 1992 Presidential election. His point was that in a difficult economic situation, people would vote for that candidate who offered a plan to make things better.
Edward Lorenz. You may not know who he is, but chances are you have heard of his contribution: The Butterfly Effect. In popular understanding, it is the notion that the flapping of butterfly wings in a distant place, say India, can cause a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. But like many popular understandings, the actual theory of the Butterfly Effect is not nearly as simple. I have thought of it a lot in these past few weeks of unarmed black men being shot by white police officers. And both in discussions with friends, commentaries on the news, the situation seems to be reduced to simply standing with the police or against the police, as if those were the only two options.