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.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon