June 28, 1914; the yellow streets of Sarajevo; a nationalist ethos; and one wrong turn.

This was all that was needed to start the first world war— one of the most disastrous and vicious wars ever to be fought on the planet; A war that led to the death of about 40 million people; the 5 years that filled the air with anguish and dread.

1908: Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia, igniting a spark of extreme fury and aversion among the minds of Serbian nationalists, who wanted to seize Bosnia as part of their regime. 

6 years later, June 28, 1914: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary visits Sarajevo (Bosnia). As his chauffeur shows him, and his wife, around town, a member of a Serbian nationalist group unexpectedly drops a bomb on the couple, hoping to kill them. 

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the pair survives.

The same day, in the evening, they decide to visit the people who had been wounded during the event. Being new to the country’s roads, the chauffeur makes a turn onto the wrong street, where, to the archduke’s bad luck, one of the co-conspirators of the attack is having a drink. He seizes the perfect opportunity to complete their mission, and drops a bomb on the couple, this time, killing them in a flash.

As the news spreads, Austria-Hungary, along with support from Germany, declares war on Serbia. Russia, being Serbia’s ally, mobilizes forces. As a result, Germany declares war on Russia too. One thing leads to another, and France and Britain declare war on Germany. Several other declarations, and it’s the beginning of the First World War.

This is how an inadvertent, simple wrong turn led to the dismantling of an economy, a society, and families— built on love, hope and diligence.

In the 1960s, Edward Lorenz presented the world with the Butterfly Effect. This theory suggests that even the most minuscule of events might have the most tremendous impacts on the future of the individual. For instance, an innocent butterfly flapping its wings might be an insignificant event for us. However, it may cause a devastating thunderstorm on the other side of the world.

The beginning of WW1 was essentially an ultimate example of this theory, leaving several scientists, philosophers, meteorologists and mathematicians nonplussed. Surprisingly, some of the major historical events, such as the Chernobyl disaster and the Nagasaki bombing were also the results of this effect.

Although most common people are not aware of this abstruse theory, it is generally considered that it holds a crucial position in their lives. Art, literature and even movies have acknowledged this effect.

Life has always never been about tiny things. It has always been about the “big picture.” People need to know that it’s not just the constellation that matters; sometimes it’s that one small, bright star, that twinkles just enough— to light up your entire world and make your life a little more different from what might have been.

But who knows— everything’s just another road not taken.



– Mira Sehgal, Amity International School, Noida


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