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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

...............................................................Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Power of One...and Many


Ever since ABC News named our family—well, okay, our entire state of North Dakota—their Persons of the Week earlier this winter, I’ve been paying closer attention to their other weekly choices.

North Dakota got the honors because as a multitude we rose up to protest National Geographic’s depiction of the state in its January issue…bleak, empty, pretty much dying out. Wrong-o! And a lot of people learned it’s not acceptable to insult a whole state like that.

This week, ABC named one 20-year-old kid, a college student, as their Person of the Week, and some person he is. When Josh Sommer learned he had a rare form of cancer, he didn’t accept the status quo, he didn’t say nothing can be done, he didn’t say well the doctors aren’t giving me any hope. Nope. He organized his own foundation. He set up a conference attracting global experts. He does his own research.

He’s been told he has a seven year survival window, but he didn’t let that slow him down. If anything, it made him all the more determined. Fate has lent a hand. The University he chose for study before he had any idea of the cancer he would face is Duke University, renowned for its cancer research. We wish him the best.

The power of one is sometimes beyond the ability of us ordinary ol’ folk to imagine.

There seems to be a lot of that going around the political world as well. Where the power of one to move multitudes is something people are still coming to grips with.

For his opponents, that power to inspire, to lead, is a thorn in their sides that they choose to mock and ridicule. The status quo of small thinking and old ways permeates their campaign body like a cancer, eating away. Talk of “honor, I honor” becomes action of dishonor…fearmongering, petulance.

The media’s body of work is being eaten at, too, by a cancer, as they egg on the one to diminish himself, betray his principles, become just like the rest of us…. Look at Dukakis, they say, or Kerry, or McGovern, or….

I prefer he look at those who seem to be inspiring him now. Not holier-than-thou Very Important Pundits. Not his political opponents. Not losers of the past. But leaders who have transcended small thinking and small acts.

Some would say Jesus is their most trusted advisor and then go and dance with the devil, while America and Iraq are overtaken by the cancers of greed and hubris and real people die, and suffer grievous injuries, and lose their homes and their livelihoods and their hope.

One says hope is still out there, but it will take all of us working together committed to change, unwavering no matter how big the challenges. There’s a multitude of people listening to that. Responding to that.

Whether it’s one college kid who inspires far beyond his narrow slice of a medical circumstance. Or one U.S. Senator who inspires a multitude of college kids and far beyond to multitudes of every demographic group you can name, the determination not to accept the status quo is unmistakable.

Because we see the body politic today, and it is riddled with cancers of corruption, and cronyism and ideology, hubris, greed, and stubbornness, and too much tap-dancin’… and we cannot, will not accept that it must be so.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,

then they fight you, then you win.”

Mahatma Gandhi

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