So, Next Time You’re Thinking of Peanuts and Butterflies . . .
By TLB Contributing Author: James N. Miller
“They arranged a daring rendezvous — a midnight meeting with four of the raiders to be held near a remote crossroads . . .”
Ever heard of the butterfly effect? MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz coined the term in 1969. The theory is that the minuscule atmospheric disturbance produced by butterfly wings can potentially grow into a hurricane. This thesis also suggests that the butterfly effect* is a metaphor about life; that obscure human deeds can grow exponentially in the same way, with world-changing results. Check out the following chain of events.
In 1970, Norman Borlaug was awarded a Nobel Prize for supplying specially hybridized grain engineered to grow during drought. He was credited with saving two billion lives in arid regions on several continents over three decades.
But, did Borlaug really deserve the credit? Enter the name Henry Wallace, Vice President during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third term. Wallace created a station in Mexico dedicated to hybridizing the grain. He hired Norman Borlaug to manage the station, but Borlaug was only an administrator, not the inventor. So, who actually discovered the hybridization process?
Go back to 1863, or 1866, depending on your source, to the town of Diamond, Missouri. A dirt farmer named Moses Carver and his wife Susan were virtual outcasts because of their stance against slavery.
They had rescued a 13-year-old pregnant slave girl named Mary Washington by purchasing her from a neighbor. They welcomed Mary and her unborn child into their family. Mary birthed a son. They named him George.
One night, a band of raiders, Confederate sympathizers, invaded the farm wearing disguises and carrying torches. They shot several people, burned the Carvers’ barn, and abducted Mary Washington, who refused to let go of her infant son.
The pillagers galloped off, leaving the Carvers plundered and devastated. Susan Carver, who might be described today as an alpha/beta female — as aggressive as a lioness from hell, as compassionate as Mother Theresa — would not let this stand. She put out the word, pulled the right strings, and learned where the raiders had taken Mary and little George.
She and Moses were determined to recover the two. They arranged a daring rendezvous — a midnight meeting with four of the raiders to be held near a remote crossroads several hours’ ride from their farm.
Moses mounted a black mare, the last horse the Carvers owned, and rode alone to the dangerous encounter. After three hours, he arrived at the crossroads to find four masked riders waiting. Mary was not with them. She was dead, they informed him. They offered instead a burlap sack, which they traded to Moses for his horse.
As the outlaws rode away, Moses tore open the sack to find a tiny, shivering, naked boy barely alive. He placed the child underneath his shirt, re-buttoned his coat, and prepared for the all-night trek back to his farm through raider territory, unarmed and on foot.
He reportedly spoke softly to the child, promising to give the boy his last name, to educate him, to raise him as his own. His middle name would be Washington, to honor his mother.
Yep, you guessed it — George Washington Carver, who became a man of faith, a brilliant scholar, and arguably the greatest botanic scientist of all time. He discovered 266 uses for the peanut, over 80 uses for the sweet potato, and dreamed of one day discovering a process to produce hybrid corn that could be planted in times of drought.
While serving as a student-teacher at Iowa State University, Carver befriended a six-year-old boy named Henry Wallace. Young Wallace was fascinated, and began attending summer camps Carver conducted over several years. Carver eagerly passed on his discoveries, his knowledge, and his dreams to the boy.
This was the same Henry Wallace who eventually became Vice President under FDR, and who hired Norman Borlaug to manage the government hybrid project in Mexico. Wallace, the Carver protégé, had taken his mentor’s imparted knowledge to the next level, developing the hybrid process for corn and wheat that would eventually save billions from starvation.
So, think back a Century earlier to the love that drove Moses and Susan Carver — to the bravery of an outcast sod buster scurrying in the dark through dangerous territory, wondering how life could have dealt such a harsh blow. Little did he know that the survival of millions was up for grabs when he traded his last horse for a dirty burlap bag containing a near-lifeless child.
Don’t lose heart when all appears lost. You never know when your words or deeds today may become hurricane-strong tomorrow or in a future generation.
My opinions are my own, and may not always reflect the views of The Liberty Beacon.
*The Butterfly Effect by New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews.
James N. Miller is the Creator of The Cody Musket Story
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