The Mathematics of Kindness
by David Jones
I’ve always been fascinated by mathematics and how it can be used to explain the universe around us. Mathematics can be used to explain the processes in the core of the sun which bathes us with life giving sunlight. It explains how raw metal can be fabricated and used to span a river so that cars can drive over it. Math explains the origins of time and space and everything contained therein. It can also be used to explain the power of kindness.
You want an example? Let’s say you have a magic eyedropper and with that you squeeze one single drop into the middle of the Rose Bowl. Now before we go much further, let me tell you that the Rose Bowl would hold about 84,370,000 gallons of water if filled to the brim. Back to the problem. We take our magic eyedropper and squeeze one drop of water onto the fifty-yard line of the Rose Bowl. A minute later we squeeze two drops of water into the middle of the field. Another minutes goes by and we squeeze four drops into the middle of the field. This continues and we double the drops being squeezed onto the field every minute. How long would it take to fill the Rose Bowl? Oh yeah, let’s assume that a single drop from an eyedropper is one – one thousandth of an ounce. Very small, right?
It may surprise you to know that if you squeeze one single drop of water into the middle of the Rose Bowl and double that every minute on the minute that it would take –
44 minutes to fill the entire Rose Bowl
Pretty amazing isn’t it? Some of you would have guessed days or even weeks. When I first heard this I didn’t believe it so I put it into Excel and calculated it myself. Now imagine if you will a single act of kindness and the impact it can make on the world. Or one person doing many acts of kindness.
I never met Scott Clarke. Never had the pleasure of knowing the man. From what I’ve heard he was quite a guy. Selfless and generous. The way he conducted his life, giving to others inspired his brother and sister-in-law to create The Honey Foundation after Scott’s passing. And as a result of their efforts thousands of people are learning and experiencing the power of kindness. In a very real sense Scott Clarke was the first drop in a tidal wave of kindness that is spreading around the world.
Never underestimate the power of a single act of kindness. We’ve all heard of the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect is the concept that small causes can have large effects. Initially, it was used with weather prediction but later the term became a metaphor used in and out of science. You know, a butterfly flapping its wings over California can cause a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean.
So it is with kindness. Small acts of kindness can have large, long lasting and far ranging effects. I have borne witness to how powerful a seemingly small act of kindness can have a dramatic effect on the recipient.
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” – Archimedes
And then there’s leverage, another concept that can be explained with math. I love how you can use leverage not only mechanically but also on a personal level. In the world that I see, the power of kindness can be amplified (leveraged) when a group of people work in concert together toward the goal of improving others’ lives. History is replete with examples of small groups of people changing the world in a positive way.
Today the media focuses almost entirely on the bad things that are happening in the world. War, famine, terror, violence. This is what sells advertising. Let me tell you, there are many good things taking place in the world. As someone who has been to conflict zones in the world I have seen firsthand the good people accomplish every single day. Even under the direst of circumstances most people find within themselves the power to be kind and caring toward their neighbor. In every single moment of every single day multiple acts of kindness are taking place.
Finally, another math problem. A UPS truck is loaded with sixty packages, all destined to different addresses. How many different iterations are there for the order in which those packages can be delivered? Take a minute of you want. Think about it. A few hundred maybe. A few thousand or maybe a few million. Here’s the answer and it will astound you -
That’s how many combinations there is for delivering all the packages in the truck. That is more than the number of atoms in the known universe. If that doesn’t blow your mind I don’t know what will.
In a group of 60 people there are a nearly infinite number of ways we can interact with each other. There’s power in that. Harness that power to create ways to be kind to each other and the world will be a better place to live.
Math can explain how an airplane can defeat gravity to slip the surly bonds of earth’s gravity and fly. It can also be used to grow and expand the kindness movement started five years ago when The Honey Foundation was founded. Please help us by supporting our efforts.