Army of One: You Can Change the World

By · November 27, 2009 · Filed in Change

When Abraham Lincoln took the Oath of Office as the 16th President of the United States in March of 1861, the country was anything but “united.”  The country was so divided over issues such as slavery and individual rights that seven southern states had seceded from the Union, and the nation was on the brink of Civil War.  Facing these obstacles, Lincoln could have easily and understandably succumbed to the pressure and relented to the demands of the South, but his values prevented him from doing so.  He was willing to face an unprecedented War within the United States for what he believed to be fundamentally right.

History, both ancient and recent, is filled with examples of ordinary people acting extraordinarily and according to their values in the face of overwhelming challenges.  People who refused to accept things they felt were wrong with the world, and who truly believed they alone could make a difference.  People, such as Rosa Parks, who simply could not wait any longer for someone to act on her behalf.

In the face of personal harm and the risk of arrest, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, singularly protesting the accepted laws of segregation, thus beginning the Civil Rights Movement.

When people follow their passion and act upon what they know in their hearts to be right, amazing things can happen.  All change begins with an individual—an individual who sees something wrong with the world or perhaps something that can be improved upon, and has the courage to initiate the change.

The trick, of course, is to find something you are passionate about.  What types of things are important to you and what can you do about it?  Next, you must act. No stone begins to roll without the first push, and you alone can get the ball rolling and create positive change that supports your personal values.  Don’t wait around for someone else to do what you can start right now.  It’s not easy, but when you truly believe in something you’ll find that the motivation to continue will come very easily.

As a simple Catholic Nun, Mother Theresa dedicated her life to helping those less fortunate.  She refused to accept that people should be hungry or denied medical care simply because of where they lived or their circumstances.  She took personal responsibility for what she believed was wrong and acted accordingly.  She was neither rich nor powerful.  She did not seek fame or fortune.  She simply wanted things to change because they were not aligned properly based upon her value system.

Isn’t it possible that you too could take a cause you believe in and make it your own?  What could you do to improve upon this world?

All too often in life, we wait around for someone else to instigate the changes we want to see.  We doubt our own ability and become paralyzed to action, thinking either we are not solely capable of bringing the changes about, or that someone else will get around to it.  This inability to act alone is all in our head.  Each journey begins with a single step, and our first step may set in motion a journey that could change the world.

The world is indeed a better place thanks to Lincoln, Parks and Mother Theresa.  Their values and the courage to act upon them changed the status quo and set in motion events that make this earth a better place to live.  The only “special power” they shared was an unshakeable belief in what they thought to be right and the guts to do something about it.  Individuals can make a difference, and it begins by answering two simple questions:

1.  What’s wrong with this?


2.  What can I do about it?

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