Thursday, November 25, 2010

How one Person can Change the World

"I've got power!"

Billions of people live their lives convinced that their actions are insignificant, that there is no way that a single person's choices can actually change anything. Those billions of people are wrong, and this is my attempt of proving just that.

Once upon a time, a boy was born into a colonialized country. His childhood was ordinary, maybe with the exception of having an influential politician as a father. He got the chance to study in London and work in South Africa, where he experienced discrimination, racism and prejudice first hand and helped form a movement to improve the rights of his people. During a mass protest against the discriminating laws, he called for a non-violent protest and acceptance of punishment when defying the law. His concept spread and he was soon an influential representative for his home country, where he returned to, among other things, help his people to independence. His weapon was a non-cooperative, non-violent and peaceful resistance which became widespread throughout the society. Violence occured, however, and he was imprisoned for two years. A few years later, in a protest against the tax of salt, he begun his 388 km long march to make salt himself. Thousands followed him and the act upset the government, resulting in 60.000 political prisoners who was later released. During the following years, the man got arrested, went on a six day fast, almost got assassinated three times, fasted for 21 days in protest, got arrested again and was finally shot dead during a prayer meeting. The country was finally liberated from the British and his name is closely associated with the accomplishment. His name was Mohandas Karamchad Gandhi.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Agnes Gonxa Bojaxhiu was born in Skopje, Macedonia, in 1910. At an early age she felt a spiritual calling and joined the Loreto Sisters, a Catholic order, and was eventually sent as a missionary in India. There, she noticed the poverty in the slum and wanted to do something about it. She didn't have any money, so she started an outdoor school for children in the slum and soon got both volunteers and funds. With the funds, she expanded the charity, reaching the elders and the lepers as well as abandoned and orphaned children. Her goodness and her felt duty to mankind was always unselfish and her charity is now spread throughout the world with funds from all over, including the Vatican. Today she is known as Mother Teresa.

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
- Mother Teresa 

Born into a wealthy Swedish family, a man became a diplomat in Budapest, Hungary. Together with a fellow diplomat, he rented 32 buildings throughout the city, declaring them extraterritorial, protected by diplomatic immunity. In these buildings, he secretly provided shelter to around 10.000 Jews and providing them with passports, rescuing them from the Holocaust. In 1945 he was suspected of being a spy for the USA and was called to a Soviet military commander. Two months later he was announced dead, killed by either the Cross Arrow Party or the Gestapo, but his death was suspicious. In 2000, a Soviet historian and politician announced that the man had been executed in 1947 in Lubyanka prison. The hero's name was Raoul Wallenberg.

If people have such great expectations, then it can only help them. From their faith and confidence, they'll gain the strength to resist. If they believe the passes are legitimate and powerful, then they may convince others, even the police, that they're powerful.
- Raoul Wallenberg

In 1948, a young man interested in boxing and running, became active in politics opposing a law that segregated blacks from whites in his home country. As a lawyer, he and a collegue started a law firm providing free or next to free services for black people that lacked attorney representation. He initially adapted Gandhi's concept of non-violence resistance and was arrested for treason along with 150 others but later became leader of an armed wing of the left-wing party, arranging sabotage of military and government targets (even guerilla wars should this fail) in an attempt to end the segregation. He was imprisoned for 27 years, during which his reputation as a black leader grew. In 1990 he was released from prison, a happening that was broadcasted all over the world, and returned to the leadership of the party. Four years later his party won the election, making him the country's first black president. His name is Nelson Mandela and recieved the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

A man does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.
- Nelson Mandela 

People like these live among us today. They could be your neighbours - they could be you. All it takes to make a difference, big or small, is a committment to change what you think is wrong, not for the sake of fame or recognition, but for the sake of the goodness in your heart. Think of your word or action as a snowball that you start to roll from a high mountain top. In the beginning you won't see much difference, but after a while the ball will grow larger and larger, ending up in a huge globe that will take down anything in its way; buildings and forests, whole villages. It doesn't take much. A single world of solidarity, or an argumenting against something unjust, can be that small push that will cause the snowball to roll.

Still not convinced? Check this out:

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