The Butterfly Effect


Posted on Sunday, December 13, 2020
In: Editorial
Written by: The Editor

Some time ago, we were, we thought, quite open about our concern in regards to the dangers to Hunting and Feld Sports from ‘unintended consequences’  a concept used in chaos theory to describe how anything we do, no matter how small, can make unexpected things happen. Sometimes those things are good, but most often they deliver an outcome which is completely the opposite of what was intended or expected.  It appears that those who should have heeded that warning were too busy to listen, perhaps, in reality, it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.

Lorenzo’s ‘butterfly effect’ links in quite strongly with unintended consequences, the underlying concept being that a small butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause huge storms to happen somewhere else. It is used to illustrate how causes and effects are linked together, not in a single direct cause-and-effect thread, but as a multi-dimensional fabric where one small action can be progressively increased and escalated into something a lot bigger, often making unpredictable and dramatics impacts- for example, a reckless choice of words can have any number of unintended consequences both now and in the future.
The Hunting Act is inherently bad law and does neither fox, hare or hound any favours. Some on both sides of the debate cling to an ego-centric view that they are somehow above or outside its remit, the mere fact of who they are or what their ’cause’ is should exempt them from any consequences. When challenged over this belief, the Egoist becomes defensive, acting surprised and hurt that anyone would seek to correct their behaviours, and expecting everyone else to conform to their  ‘right-minded’ way of thinking. Egoists are rarely capable of understanding how their actions can impact the world around them.  Full Egoists are fortunately quite rare, but their belief in their own rights and superiority means that they are very noticeable; it is also an attitude that can be partly or intermittently found in a wider circle of people. When challenged, the Egoist lashes out at everyone they believe to have “wronged” them. Such people can be seen and described as arrogant, entitled, selfish, and out of touch. Egoists do not make great leaders, yet they do give lazy journalists great copy!

The second way of viewing these events is linked to, but in many ways the opposite of the Egoist; this is the Follower.  Unlike the Egoist, the Follower doesn’t leap first down any particular route; instead, they wait to see what their ‘hero’ the egoist does and then follows – “if it’s alright for them to do it, then I can do it too” appears as one of the most common ways of justifying themselves when challenged. Unfortunately if the “someone else” they copy starts down an incorrect path, the Follower will be making what was a small issue into something worse. The combination of an Egoist and one or more Followers is a dangerous situation, where the Egoist bullishly leads the way convinced of their own ‘rightness’, and the Followers meekly fall in line and acknowledge the validity of any criticism. Followers are often star-struck when encountering those in positions of influence, and unwilling or unable to think for themselves.

The third attitude is the Ostrich – someone who knows what they are doing is not currently acceptable, but who thinks that if they stick their head in the sand by not admitting to the problem, everything they dislike will just disappear. Although not as dangerous as the Egoist, such a state of denial makes it difficult to introduce new ideas or ways of doing things. In a previous Editorial, the term used was Traditionalist for this, as someone who is so focussed on how things were in the past that they cannot accept the need to change to secure a future. The Ostrich mantra is very much “ NO CHANGE! We have to have things back exactly the way they were; any variation from that is bad.”
What the Ostrich ignores by that attitude is that there has always been an evolutionary process, to hunting as well as everything else.  Ostrich types are uncompromising, narrow-minded, stubborn, stuck in the past, and resistant to change. Ostriches are also likely to sabotage any new initiative by either inaction or deliberately acting against it because they appear to see it as a personal threat to their position.

Next, we have the Cynic, the type that whose activities are governed by a belief that they won’t be held to account because there are too many other people doing the same thing for anyone to be the focus of attention, or that society has other concerns which will prevent anyone looking too closely at them or their actions.

Finally, there is the Realist, who sees the link between cause and effect, and who recognises that open, visible, accountable governance, and trustworthy leadership is the only way forward for hunting. The Realist knows things will never be able to go back to what it was before, and wants to be a key part of any changes in support of evolving the sport under the twin heads of utility and welfare. Unfortunately, the reasonable suggestions and ideas put forward by the Realist are often shouted down by the Egoist, Follower, and Ostriches in our own camp; the Cynic tends to stay quiet but carries on in their own way, hoping that no-one will notice them but they’re not prepared to do anything constructive. The Realist builds sensible, reasonable plans for a future, only to see it continuously scuttled by the actions of others on both sides.

By behaving in the ways described for each attitude, the Egoist, Follower, Ostrich, and Cynic have caused hunting’s ‘butterflies of recklessness and foolishness’ to act the detriment of UK hunting community. We can only hope that, if we take decisive action now, we can prevent the next storm from being severe enough to sweep everything away.