One Grain of Sand

Article excerpt


What happens when the power of one becomes the power of many?

What difference will one grain of sand or a couple drops of water make? How important is one person? One idea? One vote? A few encouraging words?

One grain of sand may be insignificant unless it is in your shoe. A couple drops of water may not seem like much unless that is exactly the amount needed to enable a wheat plant to sprout.

Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, Ellen H. Richards... each of them was just one person. Yet, dare we even try to estimate the difference each one made in the lives of millions of people?

Some of the simplest ideas have had impacts far beyond what their initiators ever dreamed... the safety pin, the paper clip, the electric light bulb.

If you want to start a long conversation, ask a candidate who had a close race for elective office in the 2000 election what difference one vote makes.

Ask a child who was about to give up learning to tie his shoes what difference it made when his mother said, "Good! You did it just right that time!"

The power of one has been expressed as, "I am but one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I will do."

What happens when the power of one becomes the power of many?

What happens when one grain of sand is combined with wind and another grain, and then another and another, or when a couple drops of water are added to other drops-over and over-until the drops come together to become a raging torrent? One thing that happened was the formation of Arizona's Grand Canyon.

Because Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, and Ellen H. Richards had the courage to pursue their ideas and dreams with action, millions of people have been clothed and fed, children have been cared for, people have gained respect and their civil rights, a new nation that offered freedom and democracy was born, the United States was sustained in spite of staggering controversy, and a new profession called home economics, which empowered all individuals to reach their full potential, was established.

How many millions of safety pins and paper clips have held things together when that was the greatest immediate need? And how many millions of people have benefited from the electric light bulb? We cannot begin to estimate the full benefits of these simple ideas.

If I ever doubted whether my vote in a national election would make a difference, that doubt was forever put to rest in November 2000. Yes, my vote and yours were instrumental in determining the course of our nation.

Of all of these ways of making a difference, perhaps none has greater potential for positive impact than words of encouragement-to a child, a friend, a student. Words that encourage also empower.

"You've developed a very realistic budget for a family of four with college-bound teenagers."

"This grocery list contains all the foods you'll need to ensure variety and that everyone's preferences and nutritional needs are met for a family with growing children and a limited income. …