printed 12/28/2018

The natural order of things isn’t all that orderly, as random events can connect in so many different ways that it’s impossible to predict the outcome.

That’s called Chaos Theory, a branch of mathematics that looks at how one thing can, incongruently, lead to another … and another to produce an unpredictable result.

Scientists call it The Butterfly Effect, which maintains that a butterfly in China flapping its wings at a precise moment under the right circumstances can lead to a hurricane in the Caribbean.

Obviously, not all unanticipated consequences are bad or as extreme as that. Negative events also can lead to positive outcomes, depending on how people react.

In Ocean Pines, for instance, bad oversight, bad management and bad business practices led the board of directors to take a chance on an outside operator for its food services. Result: an immediate turnaround everyone raves about.

In Berlin, the closing of a poultry operation threw hundreds of people out of work and left a shell of a compound that could have been a blight on the town for decades. Result: the opportunity to create a park that could be among the biggest and best of any small town in the country.

Ocean City’s history brims with negative situations turned positive — the August 1933 storm that cut the island in two gave rise to an outstanding sportsfishing industry. It also spurred more development and tourism, the creation of the motel industry, new restaurants and entertainment, all of which combined to create billions of dollars of wealth in the northern county.

That generated an amazing level of personal generosity that helped to create a hospital, a new hospice center, respite housing for critically ill children, and support for every worthy charity imaginable.

Maybe the storm that cut the inlet was caused by a butterfly in China and maybe not. It doesn’t matter, because the important thing to recognize as we go into the new year isn’t that problems will arise; it’s how we respond to them that counts.

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