Growing up, I wasn’t the only kid who loved to watch Knight Rider. I also wasn’t the only one who knew exactly who said, “One man can make a difference.” So, it was a bit shocking to me that, after I told my youngest son about how one person stopped a nuclear power plant from being built in her small town, when I repeated that phrase, he responded, “No…no, they really can’t.” What?!? But then, this morning, it hit me why he would be so skeptical – the world has changed.
The past several years has shown us that the average person is more often than not to get stomped on by corporations, governments, or those in authority whose jobs are supposed to protect the everyday citizen. We’ve gone from a country of ‘for the people, by the people’ to a mass mentality of ‘every man, woman and child for himself!’ This past week has been no exception.
As with most American’s, I woke to the news of a horrendously heinous act of violence in Colorado. What should have been a fun filled evening for a theatre full of movie goers turned into moments of horror, and it had nothing to do with the movie being shown. The man who opened fire into the packed movie theatre was there for one reason and one reason only – to cause havoc and destruction, to kill. Now, in the aftermath, we see the debate of gun laws being rehashed, the once enjoyable act of cosplay under scrutiny and banned. All because of one man determined to use his knowledge to invoke an unspeakable act of violence. Would there be such an outcry of condemnation towards the movie studio, and gun legislation if the person who did this was in desert camo and at a war movie? Would there be such a division of opinion if the person had used a pipe bomb in a bank on a Friday afternoon while dressed in a business suit? What does this have to do with one person? Individual responsibility.
Each person has the right to act as he or she chooses as long as those actions do not hurt or infringe upon another person’s safety or rights. In case you missed it, we have laws in place to help ensure that there are consequences should a person, or persons, actions cause harm. Does that mean that when an act of violence occurs we should suddenly be up in arms and instantly condemn an aspect of life that is otherwise (used wisely) benign? Should we allow knee-jerk reactions to prevail because of one person’s actions? I remember in elementary school when one kid got in trouble and the whole class suffered punishment, we were not happy and insisted it was not fair or just. Am I condoning what happened? Hell no! Am I hoping people will use common sense when trying to decide how to prevent such an act from occurring again? Yes, I am.
Although I can now see why my son might think that one person cannot make a difference, I have to argue that one person can… it just depends on what type of difference we want to make. I hope that each and every one of us will decide to take the chance and make a positive difference in the world. Each morning we have the ability to improve life, or diminish it. Sometimes making a difference is also taking steps not to make a situation worse. One man can make a difference; it just depends on what you choose.
“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them” – the Dalai Lama