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It is amazing how powerful we are. It is astounding how much pain one person can cause when they put their mind to it.

In Nice, France one man managed to kill 84 people (so far) and injured more than 200 others.

One man.

If we assume every person he killed had an average of 10 people in their lives that they were very close to (family and friends) and suddenly one man has managed to hurt close to 1,000 people very deeply (probably many more).

One man.

An entire country is in shock…more than 66 million people in France are reeling by the actions of one man.

A world is aware. More than 7 billion people are all connected to this event in some way. A baby sits on its mother’s lap as she watches the news. A son is with his father as he reads the news on the internet. Friends begin to argue about who’s fault this is and the blame game begins.  People all over the world are now arguing over how this happened, how it can be prevented…division is being created; conflict – all because of the act of one man.

One man.

Not a nation. Not a religion. Not a culture.

One man.

All it takes is one person to destroy the world; all it takes in one person to save the world. That is how much power you have.

You should be frightened.

Now it is left to us to keep our heads and remember that one man does not speak for you and I. One man does not speak for a nation. One man does not act on behalf of a faith or a culture. One man’s actions are his own…no matter who they affect.

Each of us is responsible for the pain we cause and each of us is responsible for the love we bring and the suffering we ease; for the hate we spew or the grace we offer.

Every good or horrible thing starts with one person.

We keep asking ourselves “how could I have stopped this?” or “what can I do to make keep this from happening again?

The answer – do not underestimate who you are and the power of even the smallest of your actions. One kind word; one act of compassion and love; one moment of grace instead of anger can lead to a literal world of change.

Of course we have to be content to never know the impact we have had. We have to trust that bringing a little light into a neighbour’s darkness may have been enough to slay a monster.

This is one of the hardest parts about being human…trusting that we make a difference with the possibility of never knowing how. Resisting the urge to force our desires on the world by knowing that forcing our wills on others can break things.

We have a gut instinct to destroy the thing we think seeks our destruction. It is one of the basest aspects of our nature – survival. In moments like these we want to reach out with hands of fire and burn the world. We want to annihilate the one who hurt us and anyone who reminds us of that person.

We must control these urges. We must quench these fires of vengeance with the waters of forgiveness. If we do not we will obsess about how we can destroy the ones we feel are threatening us.

If we are not  careful our desire to destroy will drive us to extreme acts and we could become that one man that destroys the world instead of heals it…because we have that much power. One woman has that much power. One child.

One man.