THE POWER OF ONE
I believe in the power of one, the ability of a single person to make a difference in a community, a culture, or for all of mankind. For example, the singular determination of Mahatmas Gandhi, and his unadorned principle of non-violence which galvanized a continent and humbled an empire.
The capriciousness of life’s journey can also present tragedy as the unlikely pulpit for the power of one. My appreciation of heroic singular effort was born in personal devastation when, in 2002, my son Noah was paralyzed in a freak accident.
Nothing in my life or that of any family member has been the same. It never will be. There will always be a time before the accident and a time after the accident. Spinal cord injury is the most domineering force I have ever encountered. Paralysis rolls over all you hold familiar like a hurricane rolls over a trailer park.
In an instant, all the structures you assembled and nurtured for years to protect your child are leveled. Families stagger out of these ruins unable to recognize anything in this new wasteland. There is no solace in memories, for the pain of that lost is too much a part of them. Exhausted with grief, you sleep dreamlessly, only to awaken to a nightmare that will not end.
Yet one person appeared in this sea of despair and attached us to his lifeboat of hope.
Few have fallen farther than the now departed Christopher Reeve. From the apex of celebrity stardom in a society which over admires the strong and beautiful, he fell to the absolute bottom of the abyss of helplessness; himself severely paralyzed in a horse riding accident.
Yet the power of his oneness arose. His physical immobility was transcended by a purpose to bring hope, the mere possibility of hope, to a forgotten patient population. A foundation lives on in his name, dedicated to providing awareness, education, and a future rife with the probability of restorative therapies.
Because of him, I now believe the power of one is present in each of us. Furthermore, if we choose to look, we will find that a mission awaits our attention. The ability to make a difference yearns to escape the bonds of our listlessness. It may be the freedom of a nation as Gandhi envisioned. It may be restoring hope of freedom of movement to a disabled community as Christopher Reeve did with an unbreakable spirit. Or it may be as simple and ordinary as becoming a mentor to a child in need. But the power of one is real and within you, waiting. This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.