Harnessing the power of one

Published on July 7, 2017

To the editor:

Very often, when in a discussion about governments failing to act in the best interests of the people, someone repeats a common phrase. “There’s nothing we can do about it,” pretty well sums up the attitude of ordinary citizens.

It is uncertain whether this is truly a belief or simply an excuse for inaction. One thing is certain, if we don’t try we will accomplish nothing. All the belly-aching around the kitchen table, in the coffee shops, or at work will never bring about desired change. Politicians are not mind readers. If you want something done differently, you will have to tell them.

Through sheer will, and against considerable opposition, Pierre Trudeau managed to get our own constitution, complete with a bill of rights, enshrined in law. Mahatma Ghandi, beginning from very humble circumstances, managed to bring freedom to an entire sub-continent. Many of the great accomplishments of humanity began as an idea in one person’s head. Action and perseverance can bring about incredible change.

Many years ago I attended a seminar where ‘the power of one’ was demonstrated in a remarkable and unforgettable way. There were approximately 300 individuals in attendance in an auditorium. At one point all the lights were turned off. There was utter darkness in the room. After what seemed an eternity, although really only a few minutes, one candle was lit on the stage.

One candle did little to illuminate the auditorium. Then that candle was used to light one more. Not much change. Each of us had been given a candle and as the flame was passed, one at a time, there was the beginning of enlightenment. As that flame reached more and more candles, the room became more and more visible. Finally, when all in attendance held lit candles, the room was a bright and vibrant environment.

This was a perfect example, to me, of the power of one. It all started with just one little light from a single candle and through co-operation and common purpose the whole room was filled with light.

Should you find yourself in a discussion where you hear “there’s nothing we can do,” please remember that all good things begin with one small idea and grow with determination and co-operation working toward a common objective.

Or, as Nike tells us, “Just do it!”

Orland Kennedy,