I believe one person can make a difference. One person can speak out, one person can stand up for what they believe in, one person can take action and one person can change the lives of others. I believe with all my heart in the power of individual people to make the world a better place.
I remember when I first thought about the power one person could have to create change. I was a teenager growing up in the South when I read Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring”. This beautifully written book is a powerful indictment of the widespread use of pesticides. Rachel Carson criticized the chemical companies for claiming that pesticides were safe despite mounting evidence to the contrary. And she criticized public officials who accepted the chemical industry’s claims.
Through her book, Rachel Carson spoke out against the use of pesticides and technology to control nature. At the time, her book was revolutionary and her words had the power to cause a shift in public awareness about the environment. This one person speaking out helped start the environmental movement that impacts so many areas of our life today.
Growing up in the South I experienced the affects of desegregation in the schools and saw how one person standing up for what they believe in could make a difference. On the national stage Martin Luther King Jr. was a powerful agent of change. He stood up for what he believed in and was subjected to abuse and violence as a result. Martin Luther King became the leader of a movement that forced huge changes in this country - from desegregation to voting rights to equal opportunity laws.
On the local level I saw a kid in my high school stand up for the African-American kids being bused to our school. He stood up for what he believed was right and by doing so he helped create an atmosphere of tolerance. We didn’t experience the threats, violence and protests that were so pervasive in other desegregated schools in the South.
To me one of the most powerful images of the civil rights movement was a photo of a man wearing a sign that said “I am a man”. A black sanitation worker carried the placard in the strike that brought Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis on the day of his murder. I have wondered since what makes one person have the courage to act – to take up a sign,...