What can I do alone? I am just one individual among 7.134 billion people inhabiting this earth. How can I change anything? What difference my words or actions can make? These are just few of many negative thoughts we hear every day from people around us. True to the extent that not all of us will be able to do great things in life but certainly all of us can do small things in a great way. What is required to start with is to have faith in the “Power of one”. We do not have to look for a change from outside; it’s our inner-self first which can be a triggering point to bring about a revolution.

As Mother Teresa once said “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”. We have examples of countless people who single-handedly changed the course of history. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Jinnah, Gandhi, Einstein etc. are just few examples of individuals who whispered change and achieved what was unthinkable to start with. These people realized that one single person with a vision, purpose, and commitment can in fact start a movement and change the world. To fathom the “Power of one”, we do not have to look at these tall figures alone but search for very ordinary human beings who with their single act of defiance changed the direction of the winds.  

Ruby Bridges was the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1960. As a six-year old, Bridges was one of four black first graders, selected on the basis of test scores, to attend previously all-white public schools in New Orleans. As Bridges describes it “There was a large crowd of people outside of the school. They were throwing things and shouting” This little girl showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier. This incident occurred three years before the famous speech of Martin Luther King “I have a Dream”. The courage and defiance of this six year old girl changed history.

On August 17, 1962, two young men from East Berlin attempted to scramble to freedom by cutting the barbed wire that once entangled the Berlin Wall. One was successful in climbing the last barbed wire fence and, though suffering numerous cuts, made it safely to West Berlin while the horrified West German guards watched helplessly. This act of defiance led to the fall of the Berlin wall on 9 November 1989 which paved the way for German reunification.

Tank Man (unknown Protester) is the nickname of an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, the morning after the Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests by force.The incident took place on Chang’an Avenue. He stood in the middle of the wide avenue, directly in the path of a column of approaching Type 59 tanks. In response, the lead tank attempted to drive around the man, but the man repeatedly stepped into the path of the tank and was able to stop the armored vehicles. The Time Magazine included this “Unknown Rebel” among Time 100: “The Most Important People of the Century”. China’s drive towards democracy owes its roots to this incident.

Then there are the indigenous people of the Amazon who have taken a stand to protect their homes, the rain forest, and by defying the formidable forces of the oil industry, are taking a stand for the health of the entire planet and its living beings. Defiance by a child standing in front of a bulldozer all set to raise everything to ground is a daring example of courage and hope.  

Dave Carroll attempts to recoup the value of his guitar (broken in transit), amounting to $3,500 were stonewalled for over a year by United Airlines which refused to compensate him. Instead of remaining silent, he wrote a song “United Breaks Guitars” and posted it on YouTube on July 6, 2009. Within weeks the video received 4.6 million views with mainstream news coverage followed which included CNN, Wall Street Journal, BBC, CBS Morning Show, and many other print and electronic outlets. What the United Airlines considered as an insignificant customer brought down the revenues and the reputation of the Airline to ashes.

What our people need to understand is that none of us is statistically insignificant. As Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” Choice is ours! To suffer in silence or demonstrate the Power of one which can change our destiny.

n    The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He has authored two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living in the Grave and several research papers.The writer prefers to avoid human interaction and finds peace & happiness being alone, in silence with his own self.