The Power of One

Don’t give me a gun. Give me a hand.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last fifteen years in the classroom, inspired by the fire & audacity of students. Teenagers, in particular, are complex, emotional, and passionate about justice. They fearlessly pursue what seems impossible. As adults, we often shake our heads at their headstrong nature, at their inability to believe that time & circumstance will not be on their side.

What if we’ve got it all wrong?

As adulthood settles in, and responsibilities rise, we change: less likely to take great risks, less likely to boldly push against resistance, less likely to rebel. Today, as we grieve in the wake of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and count the decades since Columbine, we can no longer afford to intellectually dissect these horrors as adults. We must tackle them with the tenacity of our children.

One domino can topple an entire row.

It’s easy to feel cowed by the forces that seem beyond reach: corporations, agencies, and governmental bodies. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the rigidity of culture, ignorance, hatred. It’s easy to feel intimidated by the loud and the righteous. But the smallest motions still carry great power. We are interlinked, living in chains of dominos.

Consider our nation’s history. The power of a single person changing its course: that’s our story. Ruby Bridges. Rosa Parks. Ryan White. One person’s story launching a movement. One narrative to unite one voice. Yet, each day we wait for our world to transform.

Let’s not wait any longer.

The true power in the power of one isn’t about admiration for the one who stands: it is about standing as a single body, ready to force change. But forcing change doesn’t mean using force. Real change is a tug of war won inches at a time. It is gripping the rope and not getting discouraged as we feel our bodies lunge a bit forward. Setting our feet & pulling as one. Together, we have power. Together, our voice is louder than the timbre of money, status, and tradition.

Let’s grab the rope.

We need our children. We need to show them how to use this power. How to garner support via social media campaigns, how to articulate their thoughts to lawmakers, how to shame the profit makers, how to transfer their audacious spirit to a voice that will be heard. And we must stand up with them. We must not be cowed by those who do not understand, who do not agree, who try to discredit our concerns.

The most dangerous voices are not the ones who scream in favor of radicalism. They are the ones who lounge in apathy.

How will we be heard?

In the arms who pull lost children out of the darkness. In the hands who join in solidarity against the myth that change is futile. In the steady voices who reach our leaders, reminding Americans that in the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, life will always be first.