Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Power of One

My An Arkie's Faith column from the July 13, 2016, issue of The Mena Star

Awhile ago I came across a quote by the American author, historian, and Unitarian minister, Edward Everett Hale. He said, “I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” It is a good motto to live by.

Most people don’t feel that they can really make a difference. What can just one person do? Recently I found out what one person can do. A friend of mine was upset about a situation and through his actions made a big difference even though he was an ocean away. This is his story.

The story started back in 1916. The Battle of the Somme was one of the biggest battles of the First World War. Fought near the Somme River in France, it was also one of the deadliest battles in history. On the first day, July 1, 19,240 British soldiers lost their lives. It was the bloodiest day in the history of the British army.

July 1, 2016, marked the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. As a tribute to these soldiers, the British Royal Legion issued 19,240 hand crafted solid brass limited edition golden poppy lapel pins, one for each British soldier that lost his life on that day. Each pin came with a certificate featuring details of the individual soldier it commemorated.

The intricate golden pins were made from the brass of melted down shell fuses found on the Somme battlefields and feature a prominent red center, the paint for which has been mixed with soil from the same fields.

The British Royal Legion sold the pins for £39.99 with all proceeds being used to provide care and support for members of the British Armed Forces and their families. Unsurprisingly the poppies sold out within hours.

My friend, whose grandfather fought during World War I, tried to purchase one but was unsuccessful. He looked on the British Legion site, but they had all sold out very quickly. He thought, “I bet someone is trying to profit off that,” so he looked on eBay and found that there was already one on there selling for nearly £400.

It really upset him to see opportunists making huge profits off something that had such meaning. He said, “one of the sellers I contacted first was so mean and arrogant it just got me angry. My Grandfather was in the Cavalry in the great war. The slaughter was incredible as humans fought the first real mechanized war. Its was supposed to be the ‘War that ended Wars.’ Sadly, as we know this was a forlorn dream.”

He decided to contact the press in Great Britain. He was nervous when he called the papers, but the British newspaper Mirror published an article about the reselling of the golden poppy lapel pins mentioning him. He was very pleased when the BBC also reported on it, and soon the golden poppy lapel pins were removed from eBay.

One man made a difference. Jude 1:22 (NKJV) says, “And on some have compassion, making a difference.” You can make a difference. You can have compassion. You may not contribute to making a change an ocean away, but you can make a difference to someone. John F. Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

In Zechariah 7:9 (GW), God tells us to, “be compassionate and kind to each other.” Imagine what a difference you could make by simply being kind to others. Several years ago my young granddaughter walked up to a woman at church and gave her a big hug. This woman lived alone and had a prickly personality. She kept people at a distance. All day long she kept telling people, “that child hugged me. No child has ever done that before.” A simple hug made a difference in her life.

Gentle Reader, small acts of kindness have changed the hearts and minds of others. You can make a difference. You may be only one, but the power of one can be significant. You can't do everything, but you can do something. Look for opportunities to serve others and find opportunities to thank those that are of service to you. Your gratitude is an act of kindness toward others and can have a profound impact. The power of one can change the world!


  1. Thank you for including me in your article. Many of us don't realize how much our everyday interactions with our fellow humans can have a profound effect on the people around us. A smile, holding the store door, being punctual and polite etc seem like such small things and take such little effort but can help to brighten all our lives. Children who are brought up with those values seem to make better adults.

  2. This is a great story. I have always believed one person could make a difference. Living life like that every day is the best way to live. I didn't know about these pins. I am glad for the education and the reminder of the importance of our words and actions each day.