As I stood before the mourners at my mother’s Home Going service, I shared with her childhood friends, her former students and colleagues that my mother had expressed to me that she felt her life, her one life, had not been a great influence on any one person. I adamantly disagreed with her. Beverly Ann Crabtree Brown had influenced me. As a young girl, I remember tagging along with my mother as she attended Human Rights Commission meetings and NAACP Freedom Fund banquets. She allowed me to experience her civic compassion. Furthermore, I witnessed her work ethic, independence, discipline, and human frailty as I bathed her when her cancer caused her so much pain.
I understand that each of us has a desire to move outside our perennial orbit. I believe in the power of one because one can be a catalyst for change that business as usual is no longer accepted. One can be a living epistle of modesty, appropriateness, compassion, humility, temperance, dedication, and above all love. One can plant a seed of change.
Even Henry David Thoreau grasped the importance of one. He wrote “if one HONEST man … ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership and be locked up in the county jail therefore, it would be the abolition of slavery in America.” Thoreau continues “For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.”
A small step is all it takes to make this world stop and turn around. I believe that one can take a small step to end child abuse and senseless school shootings and murders. One can even take the small step to regain the moral uprightness of our nation as a society, which trusts in God.
I believe the power of one remains necessary and real. I believe that today is the time to stand as one against the situations which are ugly and amiss in our lives and society. I ask myself – can I stand as one to eradicate our nation’s and our world’s turmoil and strife. Can I stand as one against the belittlement of others? Can I stand as one person who looks beyond my needs to the needs of others and not only say “That is just too bad.” But, can I as one act?
In my mind gazing back at the faces of the people at my mother’s funeral, her life makes me realize that one life can touch, change, even inspire. So, I ask myself again the question: Can I as one individual act?
Emphatically, yes I can. Yes, I will.
This is what I believe.