Is there power in the unitary? Can an individual have any significant impact on a situation? Man is a social animal and he derives part of his identity from the social group he belongs to. Yet does an individual have any power that is naturally vested in him to yield influence on an entire social group?

‘Many a little makes a mickle’ goes the old adage. It suggests many littles have the power to form a mickle, however after the mickle is formed does it suck out all powers from each little. Drawing a parallel, we have seen how an individual feels helpless and isolated in the face of social atrocities, indiscipline and injustices. In fact as a unit one feels completely powerless to influence collective social behavior. This apparent sense of powerlessness beats most resolute of souls to submission. Needless to say many atrocities and injustices continue unopposed within social groups..

No matter how depressing the situation looks, I think that an individual is not as powerless as it appears to be. When broke resolves and submission become the norm, even one voice of dissent has the power to wake an entire social group out of their slumber. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that closed social groups struggle to rid themselves of ills and often need the inherent power vested in a unit to introspect and evolve. We have many examples from history; Raja Ram Mohan Roy, MK Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela etc. who amply demonstrate the power of ONE.

One doesn’t have to be great to see the power of one; we often see this in our day to day lives. I would invite everyone to observe the power vested in each of us by trying

  • Stop vehicle at an unmanned traffic signal when it is red and others are speeding past it à observe behavior of other drivers
  • Start dumping garbage at a particular street corner à observe how long it takes before it becomes a permanent dumping ground
  • Start riding the wrong way on a road à observe after a week how many more join

There are many such events that we ignore that amply demonstrate the power of one. To further add to my argument I would talk about Roger Banister. It took one person to break the 4 minute a mile barrier to allow others to do so repeatedly and in better time.

Then the question is, with so many examples why do we undermine the power in the unitary? Are we ashamed to do the right thing when everybody else is taking the wrong path? Are we afraid of being a laughing stock for raising our voice against an accepted norm? Are we afraid of physical harm? Or do we lack the tenacity?

“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”
Noël Coward

Nonetheless I think we should not give up on the power of one, and constantly endeavor on the right path with unwavering faith despite lack of tangible changes within the social group we belong to. As history shows that tenacious persistence has yielded life altering results. Mahatma Gandhi left us with two powerful thoughts:

  • Be the change that you wish to see in this world
  • My life is my message