The Power of One Is the Engine of Goodness

I’ve had the good fortune to interview dozens of people who were doing both little and great things with love.
The Power of One Is the Engine of Goodness
(Jacob Lund/Shutterstock)
Jeff Minick
“Not all of us can do great things,” Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “but we can do small things with great love.”

Over the past six years, I’ve had the good fortune to interview dozens of people who were doing both little and great things with love. Some 30 of my interviews occurred by phone with homeschooling moms, all of whom either were facing special challenges or had children who, by direction and dint of hard work, had achieved some major success in academics or the arts. Others ranged from young couples in my community striving to grow and build families to people all across the United States whose ideas and innovations are making a difference in their communities and in the world.

Best-selling author Mitch Albom, for example, reflected on his years-long commitment to a children’s orphanage in Haiti. Ed Hajim, the son of a Syrian immigrant, spent much of his adolescence in foster homes and an orphanage, became a Wall Street broker and entrepreneur, and has donated millions of dollars to universities, the arts, and conservation. Barbara Feigin, who cracked the glass ceiling of the advertising world in the 1960s, heeded her mother’s advice to “Think big!” and passed that life lesson on to her children and grandchildren.

A delightful Pennsylvania geography teacher explained her techniques for teaching elementary school students to identify countries around the world on a globe. A somber California nurse described how her hospital was coping with the lack of supplies brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. From North Carolina, an editor enlightened me about the importance of his newspaper to the local community. Most recently, Vanessa Elias of Wilton, Connecticut, mapped out her vision for block parties across the United States, neighborhood gatherings that would strengthen the bonds of community and inspire free play among children.

All of these people—and more—are bringing goodness to a world that is always in need of goodness. Every one of these interviews—every one of them—left me with a feeling of hope and of wanting to do a little more myself to bring some change for the better, however small, to this sometimes crazy world we live in.

These same people also teach another lesson. As individuals who, by their words and deeds, better the lives of those around them, they teach the power of one. They are like stones thrown into a pond whose splash creates an ever-widening ripple effect. The parents I’ve interviewed, for instance, who are doing their utmost to raise and educate their children in the virtues are fashioning gemstones for an impoverished world. They are shining examples of the power each of us possesses to do the same.

Often, these practitioners of the power of one are unaware of the ripples they’ve created. Here’s a personal case in point: During the past five years, three female editors have reminded me time and again that readers get more than enough doom-and-gloom from the daily news, that they were hungry for hope and inspiration, and that my articles needed to include those two ingredients. Hearing and heeding those repeated instructions rubbed off on me. I’m still no Pollyanna, but their encouragement unintentionally brightened my own perspective and thoughts. Like the men and women I’ve interviewed, those three women gave me a new pair of glasses.

From now until the end of the year, our country is likely in for a rough ride. The turmoil caused by political campaigns and by the elections in November, the tensions among nations around the world, the stress inflicted on families by inflation—these and all the other difficulties our country faces won’t be going away anytime soon. But should we allow these clouds to cast too dark a shade over our minds and hearts, then the damage done will be twofold. Falling into despair over events and circumstances that are largely beyond our individual control may tarnish or negate altogether our power of one, our abilities to brighten the lives of others.

All the people I’ve interviewed, those three editors, and many of my family members and friends are bringing positive change to their families and their communities. Like many other Americans, they may believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, yet they have the wisdom to focus their attention and care on the people, places, and things they love and value.

These people possess the power of one, and so do the rest of us. All we have to do is use it.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust On Their Wings,” and two works of nonfiction, “Learning As I Go” and “Movies Make The Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va.