They will have you believe the only way is in numbers.
And they will count on you believing the numbers will never be in your favour.
That there will never be enough of ‘you’.
They will let you believe that ‘they’ have power—governments, corporations.
And of course, they have.
But not without us.
Not without you.
They will not encourage you to believe the power of one person.
They will not ask you: what is the one thing you could do differently?
Not once but always, one thing that you can do differently forever.
That if you did it forever, it would change one sliver of the world.
They won’t ask, I guarantee it.
Because you might answer; it might cause you to think.
You might say: I will only buy local apples in the month of October.
Or, I will buy fewer books this year but all of them from an indie book store.
Or you might say you will turn off the tap as you brush your teeth.
Or find a better place to buy your coffee, your lunch, your shoes.
You might choose as your one thing to write a letter a month to an MP.
Or a letter a year.
Or walk from here to there instead of drive.
Or pick up a piece of litter every Friday afternoon.
They won’t ask.
But you can ask yourself.
What is the one thing you can do differently?
You can do as many things as you like of course.
But this is just about doing one.
Big or small.
Just choosing it.
And doing it.
There’s no rally, no meeting, no placards.
No club dues or posters.
Well, maybe posters.
All of that has its place.
But not in this game.
It’s private, this.
Be prepared; they will laugh.
Say things like ‘frivolous’ and ‘inconsequential’.
Words of fear.
They will point out that they’re winning.
Will hope you see it that way too.
Will hope you feel small and give up.
They will never, ever tell you the truth about the tiniest actions.
How they have immense power when they’re consistent.
And they will pray you never believe it’s true.
So this is my proposition: a movement of One Things.
One person at a time.
Changing just one thing you do.
Just one thing.
You can tell the world what it is.
Or you can tell no one.
It’s harder to tell no one.
Harder to just keep doing it.
The difference is in the action.
And the action will be felt.
Millions of people doing one thing differently.
A hard target for ‘them’ to attack.
Millions of individuals.
Silently changing the world.
9 thoughts on “one thing”
Uh oh. Hmmm… doesn’t sound good. Don’t think anyone’s going to buy this idea? Too simple? ;)
Sorry to be cryptic. Hmmm meant that I was thinking. You have an excellent thought-provoking idea. I have various one things that I already do, but surely there can be more. One plus one plus one plus adds up. We need to be reminded. Doing even one thing is better than feeling helpless. Thank you for a good post.
I’m so glad this makes some kind of sense to you. At this point, what can it hurt?
I think the key to making this idea work is to choose to do something that has special meaning to you. If it is something that you connect with on a personal level there will be no problem in continuing to do it. You will not worry about whether it is helping in the larger picture, because the personal connection is what soothes your soul and what gives the action meaning.
I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but I believe the world will continue with or without us. The world is a self-healing entity no matter what we do to it. Its endurance does not depend on each of us doing one little thing. Our endurance, on the other hand, does depend on that.
For instance, I think picking up litter has a special meaning to you that goes beyond merely saving the planet. I think you connect with it on an anthropological or archaeological level. It has to do with your interest in people. I think it is connected to why you write.
I’m not trying to say you don’t care about the planet or that people shouldn’t care about the planet. I just think that is a very abstract idea, which is why most people feel defeated by the enormity of it. The Movement of One Thing could work if each of us can imbue it with our own unique brand of benevolent selfishness.
Ah, yes! It’s true. Benevolent selfishness is exactly how it should be seen; the only way it can work. The term is perfect. Thank you.
BTW, I don’t think you’re at all pessimistic in your view re the changes this kind of action would achieve. In fact, I love how you’ve put it: “[The world’s] endurance does not depend on each of us doing one little thing. Our endurance, on the other hand, does depend on that.”
I think it’s so important that we understand the paradox of “ourselves” — that we’re small and insignificant in the greater scheme of things, yet within the society we’ve created, each individual holds extreme power.
THAT’S the lesson we don’t get told enough.
That one person does have power. And that it doesn’t have to be in a complicated, organized, authorized, unionized, group-think kind of way.
And that regardless of who someone is, or how much clout or chutzpah or dough they may or may not have, there’s some tiny bit of power to effect change that lies at their fingertips.
I rather like the idea of there being some personal benefit to doing the chosen “thing”. I think anything less might cause one to lean dangerously towards a kind of self-righteous martyrdom.
Thanks so much for this, Steve. Your comments are worthy of their own post!
Oh, and your comment about my litter thing being connected to my writing is fascinating, and possibly brilliant. You’ve touched on something there. But what?? :))
I’ll be mulling that over a-plenty!
I think the act of picking up litter is probably connected to all writing. What we do with the litter is what matters. After all, what we create is the culmination of what we have experienced, the flotsam and jetsam of our lives, that we are trying to refashion into something meaningful. Even if we throw the physical litter away (in the proper receptacle, of course) or recycle it into something, we have imposed our own sense of order on it. Nothing ever really gets thrown away.