I have been amazed at how much power one person can have. If we knew we were so powerful, I think we would achieve anything. Sadly, this power goes untapped and unutilised. The power of one person was strikingly brought home to me when reading a series of articles by Hazel on eight Black Lives Matter heroes. These stemmed from the poem:
Dream like Martin
Lead like Harriet
Fight like Malcolm
Write like Maya
Build like Madam C.J
Speak like Frederick
Educate like W.E.B
Challenge like Rosa
These individuals had amazing powers of resilience, vision, and charisma, which they used to improve the qualities of society beyond recognition. Martin Luther King Jr, the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, dreamed of a better future for his children. His campaigns and peaceful protests made this dream a reality. Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery and spent the rest of her life helping over 70 other slaves flee from their cruel owners. Malcolm X stood up for both black people and Muslims in a time when they had no voice. Maya Angelou defended the rights of black women and wrote books in defence of oppressed Black cultures. Madam C.J. Walker became the first female self-made millionaire in America. With her money, she helped black women learn a profession and fend for themselves in a male-oriented world. Frederick Douglass sought to put an end to slavery and believed everyone should receive equal treatment, regardless of race. W.E.B Du Bois fought against the constraints on his race to become the first African American to earn a doctorate. He fought to remove the barriers so more black people could obtain qualifications. Finally, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, sparking boycotts and campaigns throughout the United States.
An exhibition at the British Library called Unfinished Business, which I attended last year, emphasised the power of an individual. The display highlighted women who had fought for their rights and made society a fairer place. They refused to be muted, their voices rang clear, and they challenged society’s norms for the better. These people were no different from you and me. They were not necessarily highly educated or articulate, and they did not always come from a family of wealth. What they did have was a vision.
Another example of vision and power occurred after the BBC aired a programme that I thought was not very fair. Approximately 6 million people watched, and the BBC received around 1000 complaints, compelling them to do something. Out of 6 million people, only 1000 people voiced concern, but it was enough for the BBC to respond. It only needed 0.02% of viewers to complain to make a difference.
Proverbs 29:18 reads “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” It suggests that without vision, there is no change and no hope for the future.
In a competitive, consumerist market, businesses look after their reputation. It is the most important hidden asset they have. So, if you feel like complaining, the chances are your voice will be heard. We have power; we have the power of one. What will galvanise us, what has to happen to prompt us to complain? Our MPs are very keen to hear from their constituents, but how often do we write about our concerns for ourselves, our town, our country, and our world? We have the power of one, and we just need to use this power with vision. Let’s see what we can create.
I do not often, in fact, I cannot remember if I have ever spoken about my vulnerabilities, but two or three evenings ago, my mind was not in a good place. A coping technique I have devised over the years is to write my concerns in a book. This refines the issue, depersonalises it, and gives me an element of clarity to ensure a way forward, which I put into practice in the morning. Having written my problem, I go back to bed and sleep swiftly follows.
During one of these moments, prayer struck me at a different level of intensity. Before I offer you this prayer, which helped me significantly, I wish to share the idea through the context of something I read in a daily motivation article:
“Only in my pain, did I find my will.
Only in my chaos, did I learn to be still.
Only in my fear, did I find my might.
Only in my darkness, did I see my light.”
The prayer that gave me so much peace is attributed to St Teresa of Ávila:
“Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God alone is changeless
He who has patience wants for nothing
He who has God has all things.
God alone suffices.”
We all have a daily prayer life, but sometimes it may seem our prayers are just part of our routine. It is only when one is on the rocks of despair that prayers may speak to you, help you, encourage you and move you forward. So, I offer St Teresa’s prayer for anyone who suffers from bouts of apprehension.
At the time of writing, it is still the period of Advent. Preparations are underway for Christmas celebrations in our “bubbles”. Covid-19 remains a concern, but the vaccine has arrived in the country. Brexit talks are causing anxieties for many people. By the time you read this, we will no longer be part of the EU. By the time you read this, hundreds or thousands of people may be vaccinated. By the time you read this, our many worries and fears for the future may already be something of the past.
As we go into the new year, I would like us to focus on the word Hope. Admittedly, it is difficult to plan and think positively of the future. We have learned from 2020 that plans can be disrupted. This time last year, we did not know the challenges we would face. Should we approach this new year with apprehension or with hope for the future?
God sent Jesus to Earth as a gift of hope, which we celebrate each year on Christmas day. The shepherds and wise men that came to worship the child were full of hope, but we must not forget the confusion and mayhem this hope also caused. “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Matthew 2:3) Herod feared for his position as king, and Jerusalem feared the changes this baby, this “hope”, would bring.
Hope manifests in many different ways. For some, it is a feeling, for others, it involves major changes. Being afraid of change prevents hope from becoming a reality. Some people are hopeful this vaccine will work, others fear it. By the time you read this, we may see evidence of the vaccine working, or we may not. There could be other vaccines in circulation, or there may not. Brexit may have gone smoothly, or it may not. We cannot predict these things, but we can hope and trust in God and know that, no matter what, we are loved beyond our comprehension.
So, as we go into this new year, look for signs of hope. Hope is not necessarily something huge, Jesus was only a baby, after all, but hope may appear in the most mundane of places: a smile from a stranger, a budding flower, blossom on trees, an act of random kindness. We do not know what this year will bring, but we can embrace the small glimmers of hope that prove life goes on and that God is always with us.
We are happy for you to use any material found here, however, please acknowledge the source: www.gantshillurc.co.uk
Rev'd Martin Wheadon