Locard’s Exchange Principle

A crime. No leads. Police and investigators pick through the scene. Ask questions. Examine the scene again.  Look.  Study.  Listen.  Sniff.  Search. And solve. Often thanks to Dr. Edmond Locard (1877-1966) – a pioneer in forensic science.  Dr. Locard (known as the French Sherlock Holmes) developed a basic principle of forensics that “every contact leaves a trace.”  Writer Paul Kirk in 1953 described Locard’s Exchange Principle as: “Wherever he steps [or] whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, will serve as a silent witness against him. . . . .”  In other words, the occasion of every crime – leaves behind traces of the criminal.  And thus a means for solving the case. . . . .

Locard’s Exchange Principle applies to life in general.  As we wander through our daily lives, wherever we walk, stand, sit or set foot, we leave behind a part of us.  Whoever we talk to, cross paths with or acknowledge, we leave a trace.   Of our presence.  The trace can be positive or negative.  A sharing of concern, love or sympathy.  Or it might be anger, distraction or inattention.  But as we move on this journey, whether we like it or not, there is a forensic trail.  That bears witness.   The traces we leave behind as we shuffle from one day to the next may not mean much to us.  But they could mean everything to someone else.   

Mother Teresa once said “Kind words can be short and easy to speak.  But their echoes are truly endless.”  Actions leave echoes too.  And attitudes.  What traces are you leaving behind?        

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