The term “critical mass” comes from physics. Wikipedia defines it as “the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction.”
The lay understanding of the term, particularly when applied to human or social change, often thinks of critical mass as a description of quantity. In fact, in the realm of physics where the term originates, it refers to quality, not quantity. That’s why uranium, for example, has to be “enriched” before it can be used.
The principle extends: one of the anthropologist Margaret Mead’s well-known quotes was “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Jesus encouraged his followers to be like yeast and salt: a small amount makes a large difference.
Our cultural story is “more is better.” Reality sometimes suggests otherwise.
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