Ripple Effect – defined as the effect of an initial action or reaction. The conductor, intentionally or unintentionally, causes a wide spread impact, following or phenomena that gets embedded in a society’s footprint or in a group’s history.
Consider rain drops. You don’t feel an enormous effect only if it is just one drop that hits your nose while walking on the street. But when it gradually comes down as rain and pours, it creates ripples and pools. Pools can eventually become flood or lakes as the rain strengthen.
Dominoes work the same way. A gentle tug of the first domino creates a ripple effect to the rest of the series.
The Arab Spring is, by now, a very famous term to describe what has happened and is happening to the Middle East and some European countries. The world has witnessed the Egyptian government overthrown twice with the second government ending on February 11, 2011. Then Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life imprisonment for ordering the killing of protesters. The famous Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebel forces, and the Libyan government finally overthrown on August 23, 2011. Other Muslim and few non-Muslim countries that protested against their governments were Algeria, Jordan, Oman, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Mauritania, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Syria and Palestine. Syrian demonstrations are still ongoing, which is the major focus of world news today.
If you’re curious enough to know why this is happening, you will ask the very first question that needs to be asked. What or who stirred this whole historical uprising?
To understand, we go back to December 17, 2010 in the Sidi Bouzid Public Market in Tunisia to meet Mohammed Bouazizi on his final conscious day. Prior to his death, he was a nobody to the outside world; however, he was known in his place as a very hard-working and charitable street vendor who supported his family by his industry. On that day, as in previous days since child hood, the police started harassing him again for selling goods without a permit. He didn’t have the money to bribe the officers; thus, he was publicly humiliated and fined, and his goods were confiscated. Angered by the police’s acts, he went to the governor’s office to complain but the governor didn’t see nor listen to him. Due to deep poverty and frustration in the government, he doused and lit himself on fire in the middle of traffic an hour after the event in the public market. He died of severe burns on January 4, 2011 in a Burn and Trauma Centre in Ben Arous.
His self-immolation made the headlines which created a gradual wave of protests against the Tunisian government, and a series of imitated self-immolations within the Middle East. Widespread protests have been witnessed following his death, which triggered President Ben Ali to step down after a 23-year rule.
Now, Mohammed Bouazizi, the 26-year old Tunisian is considered a “hero” in the Muslim world and a famous personality worldwide. A Paris square will be named in his honor, and a cart statue has been erected in Sidi Bouzid for him. He was also awarded UK Time Magazine’s 2011 Person of the Year and the 2011 Sakharov Prize posthumously.
World War II is very much similar to the Arab Spring. It spread like virus from Europe to Asia. From 1939 to 1945, countries fought against each other. Germany overpowered the rest of Europe while Japan conquered Asia prior to the takeover of Allied Forces.
The root cause? Adolf Hitler – the decorated veteran of WW I – who promoted Nazism and established the popular blitzkrieg and swastika. He became more prominent as the man who almost wiped out the Jews due to his anti-Semitic beliefs.
He was a negative force who won his people’s hearts and minds by his powerful speeches about Nazism. To borrow from various articles and historians, “he had a hypnotic appeal to his large audiences that enabled him to gain followers to realize his dream of defeating other races.”
WW II was essentially an attack against race more than invasion for power with Hitler’s Aryan Race ideology used to defeat what they believed are minor races such as the Jews.
The result was a 6-year global conflict. His ideals were copied by the Japanese when they attacked Pearl Harbor that launched the Pacific War. As in the Middle East conflict, the immediate reaction was “Germany or Tunisia was able to do it. We can do it too!” And that’s how subsequent events, brought about by a single source, multiply.
Multiply, as in diseases such as the Black Death or Bubonic Plague. Small rodents and fleas transmit the disease to humans, which attacks the groin and lymph nodes. According to experts, two thirds of affected victims die when left untreated for four days.
In the 1330s, the outbreak of the plague occurred in China. And because China is one of the most active merchants, it was just a matter of time when the disease also plagued their trading counterparts in Asia and Europe. The spread of the virus caused a third of Europe’s population (25 million) to be wiped out.
During the Byzantine Empire, Emperor Justinian I was also infected. He survived after extensive treatment; however, it spread throughout the Roman Empire and killed around 50 million people at that time.
To note, the middle ages never recovered from the epidemic which could be partially due to the lack of medicine and treatment as science was still developing during that time. It ravaged the human population until the 1600s.
The spread of an epidemic was best portrayed in the movie Contagion which was a story about the spread of meningococcemia. Flashback at the end of the movie showed the cause of the disease that was transported from Taiwan to the rest of Asia and the US.
It started with a bulldozer for Beth Ermhoff’s company knocking down a banana tree where bats were roosting. One of the infected bats perched on a pig pen and dropped a banana in the pen where a pig ate it. The hybrid virus was then formed. The following day, the pigs were butchered and delivered to a casino where the chefs prepared it for the guests. In the middle of the preparation, the chef preparing the infected piglet was called to meet with Beth. He just wiped his hands in his apron and shook Beth’s hand when introduced. This started the chain of contagion with Beth being the first patient.
The said virus was also experienced in the Mountain Provinces, Benguet and Baguio in early 2000 that caused several deaths. This triggered the Department of Health to announce an epidemic and have all residents be on close guard while extensive treatments were being made.
War and epidemics are the most featured topics when it comes to ripple effects. But if we look closely, we can also observe other hot topics with the same impact.
Menstrual Synchrony, for example, which is the term coined by Martha Mclintock in 1971 to refer to “period bonding” is an unconscious psychological and emotional phenomenon happening in women. It happens with me, my sisters and girlfriends. It is most fortunate for us with irregular periods as the menstrual state gets affected whenever someone in the circle happens to have her menstruation.
I believe that there is really no science to it, which critics of Ms. Mclintock’s study verbally argue. I agree. The results are inconsistent among those studied. But I can personally attest to Ms. Mclintock’s published work. We, women, experience the pull and even ask our peers to “infect” us with their menstruation so that we can also have it if we still don’t have it as expected. She was just the official voice of women worldwide to term the feeling we experience during those moon times.
Retail? That term alone immediately relates to stores and shopping. Shopping in boutiques or plush fashion stores are staples of today. But if you’re on a budget and would like to check on a variety of selections, what better way than to visit a department store? Shoe Mart (SM) is the biggest in the Philippines with malls located in major areas in the metro and even on selected provinces. Wal-Mart is a comparable store in the US. These stores provide balance to address budget and preferences by customers.
You would be surprised to know that the introducers are married men. I first came across the article about the man who introduced department store shopping in an issue of Reader’s Digest Asia. Lyman and Joseph Bloomingdale were the brothers behind the whole concept but it was Lyman who pushed it further. They opened their store in the 1870s beginning with the Ladies Notion Shop in New York. During that time, stores specialized in a single garment. Bloomingdale’s diversified and sold a variety of European fashion that they associated with the upper class American society. Flamboyant advertisements were created to entice customers to come in and experience a new kind of shopping. Famous personalities have been seen shopping or visiting. The increased popularity of Bloomingdale’s enabled the brothers to expand their store to an entire city block. Windows were decorated with store displays. Customers arrived on the door and were greeted by friendly sales clerks ready to assist with their shopping needs.
The Bloomingdale brothers inspired what are now common and specialized retail shops built to service customer preferences, and although the retail industry has changed through the years, Bloomingdale’s continues to evolve with it.
So what about these stories?
Simple. It affected us and the world one way or another. It transformed cultures, visions for the future, what we currently have.
Mohammed’s actions, even if he was only thinking of his own and family’s welfare then, was considered a “heroic” act by the Tunisian people and the rest of the Arab world. He must be puzzled and surprised now at the effect of his acts, just seeing the still ongoing demonstrations to reform governments in Syria and Egypt.
Long-termed politicians (> 15 years in power) have stepped down without hope of their families being elected for government seats. The passive mindset of Arabs against the government has been activated. That yes, they can create big reforms for their poverty-stricken, corruption-laden countries. In the Philippines, this was ever evident in the first and truthful People Power Revolution that dissolved the dictatorial government after 20 years under then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. Truly, the voice of the people is the supreme law.
We just hope that Syria and Egypt recovers soon enough to re-build their nation.
The result of WW II was significant nation building for those severely affected by the war. Rubbles have been cleaned and new buildings set up, which in turn, created businesses to spur the economy. Governments realized that there must be increased focus on national protection; thus, the significant investments on arms and intelligence.
Every government is now protective and on the lookout for possible attacks that might cause harm to their peoples and nations.
During the time when there were several deaths due to the Bubonic Plague, there was severe lack of manpower to continue with business. Laborers demanded for higher wages to equal their widened scope which landlords and businessmen refused. This caused revolts in several European countries.
The epidemic also has greatly contributed to the improvement of Science and the discovery of new medicines to fight such viruses.
On a contra-note though, the Imperial Japanese Army used the virus for chemical warfare during the Sino-Japanese War. This brought about plague outbreaks on areas that they bombed with the infected fleas.
Chemical Warfare is now one of the deadliest tools being used by nations to attack their enemies.
These are where we see the negative and positive impact of anything related to rightist propaganda and disease-related concerns.
There is really no significant impact of menstrual synchrony other than the public knowledge that it’s happening in women’s hormones.
Bloomingdale’s? The sensational idea paved way for fashionable display counters in department stores and shopping districts. There was also an increase in glossy advertisements and rise in fashion magazines showing trends, what to buy and what not to wear, what’s in season, how to dress up, etc. All these, due to the out-of-the-box thinking of two brothers.
If we just open our eyes and start observing, we will witness a lot of ripples and effects.
Migrating birds, packs of lions or herds of elephants – these always go in groups. But notice, there’s always a leader being followed by the rest.
Rock and roll, in all its forms and styles, hasn’t been up and famous until Elvis Presley. The low-voiced, guitar swinging, handsome gentleman who sang Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog and Heartbreak Hotel among others, has revolutionized the rock and roll era. Even impersonators of the legendary singer are still living his dream.
And then there was The Beatles, the pop rock boy band, who won the crazy hearts and souls of so many women around the world with their upbeat and unforgettable songs like Love Me Do, Hey Jude and A Hard Day’s Night. Boy bands have transformed gradually over the years but the first taste of that was with the well-suited four-man band that created Beatlemania.
Ripples create pools or lakes. Bad becomes worse or good, good becomes better.
The boundary of such ripples is extensive. Wherever we are, whatever we do, we experience it one way or another – directly or indirectly. It’s how we act to ripples that touch us that determine our fate, thinking or act.
Kathleen Garcia is not as popular as the rest of the individuals above but she was in my high school class. I remember her most vividly because of one act that spurred agreement with the entire class. We had a teacher who had very high expectations, who thought very superior of himself and who provided very sensitive literary reads. We debated with our teacher in the classroom but didn’t favour most of his ways. One time, Kate raised her hand. We supposed she will answer our teacher’s query but commented on his teaching methods instead. She voiced what the class felt against it. Then, in chorus, the class seconded. He didn’t pass student evaluations. A simple example of a ripple effect in a classroom.