The Power of One

I’ve often reflected on the fact that the number one, for me personally, is very significant.

One phone call in 1999 began a journey with one song, called  ‘They Told Me This Is Africa’, which continues to shape my music – and the journey of life itself.

Another phone call in 2002 was the first seed sown, in a tilling and ploughing of ‘heart ground’, which brought myself, Jim, and our two children to Hong Kong to serve as volunteers with Crossroads International.

And yet another call, made in 2006 in the upper room of a printing press in Chiang Mai, Thailand, led to a  meeting with the leader of the Free Burma Rangers, which has continued to thrust me into issues and situations about which, before then, I virtually knew nothing – and cared the same.

The power of one!

I recall a movie of that title, and an interesting summary of the theme is  ‘it  is an intriguing story of a young English boy named Peekay and his passion for changing the world.’

The individuals who made the calls in the examples above, have many standout qualities. But perhaps the one that rises above them all is Passion. All are passionate, and have invested their whole lives into a Cause grander and richer and more majestic than simply earning a living and making sure one is set for a ‘secure’ retirement.

All in their unique way desire, and daily work, to see situations change in a world where the majority are powerless to change anything. Not one of them defaults to the position – ‘It’s someone else’s problem’.

THEIR passion I have found irresistible..and this ‘power of one’  continues.

One ‘chance’ meeting with two Kachin refugees in Malaysia, in October 2007, has led to 4 trips back to KL and the priceless blessing of being a small part of a huge story that continues to unfold, and draw in more lives from around the world, who will be the power of one in their circles of influence to bring change and restitution to these people.

One conversation, one book, ( even one paragraph of one chapter of one book), one song, one ticket to somewhere…. be ready to be surprised at how ‘little’ the ‘one’ can be that will alter your perspective, and actually, change your life.

Oh Dear – a new song inspired by Hotel Rwanda, the ongoing Burma crisis and various conversations.

Oh dear, what’s the hoo-ha

there’s  another genocide somewhere in Africa

We’ll all talk about it for at least 10 minutes

Then get on with eating dinner

And thank God that we’re not in it

Blacks are killing blacks

The world is nonchalant

There’s something in the paper

In small neat font

People being chopped

But I’m blasé

After all, this is what happens in Africa today.

Oh dear, let’s  get our head out of the sand

Now the whites are at risk in that godless land

send in the convoys and the military clout

Gotta act fast, get our nationals out!

Cause blacks are killing blacks

The world is looking on

Now there’s a news report come in

they’re butchering priests and nuns

Orphans left to die

But that’s ok

After all, this is what happens in Africa today

Oh dear, what’s the hoo-ha

Seems there’s been a slow genocide for 50 years and more

We’ll all talk about it for at least 10 minutes

Then plug into our I phones

And thank God that we’re not in it.

And the army’s moving in

The world is nonchalant

There’s something in the paper

In small neat font

Families displaced

But that’s ok

After all, this is what happens in Burma today.

Oh dear, what’s the hoo-ha

Thousands of refugees are crossing borders

We’ll all talk about it, gotta get our facts clear

But all we end up doing ‘s  saying…

Oh dear, what’s the hoo-ha

Thousands of refugees are crossing borders

We’ll all talk about it, gotta get our facts clear

But all we end up doing, all we end up saying

All we end up doing, all we end up saying is……..

Left not the same.

This past month has introduced another  amazing individual into our lives. For me, this is the ‘heart equivalent’ of winning a huge jackpot – except  in this case the dividends  will be ever enlarging ones, and in no way dependent on the whims of economic climate.

Steve is a dentist from the USA and we met by ‘chance’ in a bookshop in Kowloon. Our conversation began with him asking me a question, and several hours later, after having migrated to the nearest Starbucks, we continued to be engaged in what has been another life altering meeting.

A  shared meal 2 days later…and several more hours of conversation, followed by a long chat over the phone after his return to the States. I feel I have known Steve longer – and deeper – than some people with whom mutual hellos and ‘how are yous’ have been exchanged for years!

Steve is a dentist, but his passion is helping the people of Mainland China – it oozes out of every pore of his soul. He has a ‘holy discontent’ to be continually pushed out of his ‘comfort areas’, and his realisation that our life here is short – and fragile – spurs him daily to be investing his time, skills and resources into what counts.

What counts! Not necessarily in the short term, but what is REALLY going to matter when we face our final moments on this mortal coil?

Steve is challenging me, even in the daily work I am doing as  a volunteer in Hong Kong, to push harder and more persistently against what is familiar and comfortable. As I recall what we have talked about, and as I anticipate the next conversation, I am marveling again at how these truly extraordinary people walk into our life – and from that moment begin to change it.

As Steve has shared stories of his work on the Mainland, new windows have opened in my mind and heart onto people and situations I knew nothing about. But Steve has not only  educated me – in fact, this is the least gift he left me with.

He has enlarged my heart’s view on certain truths and issues; he has, in such a brief acquaintance, bequeathed me a legacy. A legacy of a passion for a cause that is deep and real and beautiful, a passion that doesn’t waver and burn out when the first obstacle blows across the flame.

Steve’s passion and commitment is for the long haul – in fact, for life. It is a passion that truly ‘ENABLES’ him – enables him to leave his practise in the States, and all the comforts that lifestyle affords, and venture into territory that has no guarantees – only the promise that a difference will be made – to individuals and  communities in China – because he went.

I am learning that the truly ‘great’ people in this world don’t think they are. Their energies and passions are  focused on something other than themselves – and this is what shines out from their hearts and faces and conversations.

I am also  learning that these truly great individuals will most likely never be read about in a popular magazine, or be featured in a prime time news story.

But how incredibly amazing that every now and then, one of these true heroes is brought into our life, and a relationship is born that leaves us not the same as we were before.