Do not forget your power

Brooke J. Freundschuh, A&E Editor

When I hear the word “power,” I instantly think of corruption, usually political. I picture a dictator giving orders or a corrupt politician or boss sitting behind a desk, laughing as they approve acts that will harm their people. I think of money, status and manipulation. 

Last week, while working in retail, I met the nicest man, a Vietnam veteran. He asked for my help to find something that his hospitalized wife had requested. While searching, he began to tell me more about her condition. After we picked something out for her, before we parted, I told him that I’d pray for her. He burst into tears and hugged me. 

I don’t know if he knew, but this meeting meant a lot to me. I don’t know his name, but I’ve thought of him and his wife every day since. 

I was just doing my job. What he had asked for wasn’t my area of training, but I made do. To have evoked such a strong emotional response from this man who was suffering, simply by being patient and kind while doing my job, really made me think about the power our everyday actions hold and how life as we know it can change in an instant, just as it had for this man and his wife. 

We all have roles in our lives no matter who we are or what we do. We have roles in our families, relationships, work places, friend groups. 

To be alive on this earth is to have an impact on the environment around you, whether it be the physical environment, the people you interact with or the company you work for. Like “the butterfly effect,” something somewhere would not be the same if you were not who you are and where you have been, are, and will be. 

Even newborn babies, though seemingly “powerless,” have a huge effect on their parents, siblings, even the hospital workers who deliver them. They immediately become part of a new generation. They’ll be used for statistics before they can even form their own thoughts. At birth, one is born into a society they did not get to choose, but will forever be able to change. 

When I think of “change,” I think big. I hear voices saying “if you want to change something, run for office,” and other such sentiments. And yes, on the scale of politics that might be the answer, but the majority of people will never be an official in politics. However, everyone is a daughter or a son and a member of a community. Most are or will become siblings, friends, parents, spouses, students, employees, or a million other roles, depending on the path they take, and the path they take can be influenced by just one decision. 

It’s a little overwhelming when you think about it.

In environmental science, the term “carbon footprint” is used to trace how much impact a group or individual has affected the planet.

What is your footprint in the lives of those around you? Your family, friends, significant others, or coworkers- how do they feel when they’re around you? How do you respond to their problems? How do you respond to their achievements?

More importantly, how do you treat strangers? 

If you traveled to a foreign city, alone, where not a soul knew your name, how would you treat the local who asked for help? 

Do you think of people you’ll never see again and hope they’re okay? 

One of the scariest, yet telling truths is that we have no control over what people remember about us. I am positive that there are people on this earth who don’t like me because of things I’ve said or done that I don’t remember and love me for the same. 

Do you remember a time when someone embarrassed you, laughed at you or was cruel to you? Even if you never see them again, you’ll always associate them with that one act, when they most likely have families who cherish their kindness. 

You never know what insult or what piece of advice that someone remembers you for after all this time. You never know how one comment you have made impacted those who heard it. This is why we must strive to make our words and actions positive. 

We all have the power to be kind, just as we all have the power to be evil.

We all have the power to be patient and considerate, just as we all have the power to go on about our business, not caring how our actions affect others. 

You don’t have to change the world by curing an illness or overturning a law. 

You have the power to let someone know that you care about them, and sometimes that’s enough. 

Don’t work to change minds, work to change hearts. 

And don’t forget your power.