You are not “just” anything.
A doctor said those words during a recent conference presentation. He recalled that early in his career, he had called himself “just an intern” as She spoke with his mentor.
His mentor stopped him right there and told him he was not “just” anything and never to say that again.
That new perspective allowed the doctor to make a difference not only in his own life and practice but also in the causes he values. He realized the power of one person.
The people in Susan Rupe’s main feature this month understand that power as well. They are inspirational not only because of the obstacles they overcame but also for reshaping those experiences into something meaningful. They were inspired by these events, but they also are inspiring simply by their presence.
You don’t have to go far to find individuals making an impact on a larger stage. Just pay attention to the news for a nanosecond and the name Donald Trump is likely to appear.
Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Trump is making an impact. Some people say the impact will lead to a greater America — others say he will be more like the meteor that led to the extinction of dinosaurs.
But why him? After all, he does not have political or public leadership experience. He says his business experience qualifies him, but that is not why he won so many Republican primaries. He won them because he believed he could. Trump knows the power of one person’s determination.
People can argue that Trump started with a fortune, so of course he had a platform to shout from. But we know that the individual who makes the most of life’s circumstances is the one who is ultimately successful.
Think of the poorest people who wander deserts and wilderness in search of answers. One of those people was the inspiration for the religion you might follow.
One was, like Trump, born into great wealth. Siddhartha Gautama was of noble birth in India. He renounced his money and left his palace to spend years searching for enlightenment before becoming the Buddha.
His example influenced a young Indian lawyer in South Africa who stood up for Indian rights against the might of the British Empire. Instead of a comfortable career under British rule in his native India, Mohandas Gandhi decided to shed the starched white and black of post-Victorian England.
Gandhi became revered as Mahatma, the great soul, and helped lead his country to independence simply with his nonviolent presence.
Gandhi influenced a young African-American pastor in Alabama when a bus boycott propelled the civil rights movement out of Montgomery to the national stage. Martin Luther King Jr. was 25 with young children and his career mapped out before him when he decided to pursue a greater cause.
During that time, even as he faced personal danger, he stuck by Gandhi’s nonviolent example.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” King wrote. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
That chain of inspiration changed the world. But it was “just” three men.
Each one of them stepped outside of his comfortable, secure life for something greater. None of them earned riches in those new lives, but each contributed to the golden vein of inspiration. We can only hope a new heir will draw from this current to help shine light in these dark days.
Most of us have inspiration that drives us. We all live in the comfort someone else earned through sacrifice.
Each of us in the United States has an ancestor who pushed away from a known land to come here. Even Native Americans came from Asia around 20,000 years ago, according to the prevailing theory. Pioneers faced terrifying conditions to hand us the life we know.
Are we spending that inheritance wisely? One or two generations can lose a fortune that took so long to build. That is true for our family, country and profession.
We are facing challenges on all those fronts. It is easy and understandable to be frustrated and even angry.
But here’s the thing about anger — it incinerates the words in a frightening roar. In our most difficult times, we remember the quiet ones who bore hardship with resolve and kindness.
We all probably remember starting out in life, school or work when we were frightened and needed someone with calm wisdom. When that person found us, we felt right away that things were going to be all right.
Someone fitting that description is in our life, near or in the periphery. Perhaps we owe it to our forebearers to find that person. Then that person can help the next.
We cannot change the world all at once. It starts with an individual and radiates to a revolution.
It takes just one person.
Steven A. Morelli