When I was about thirteen-years-old, I watched The Power of One for the first time. My oldest brother had read the book or watched the movie in college and he was moving home for the year to get ready for law school so he brought his inspirational gear home with him. I loved the movie, probably because of the music, the message, and the fact that it was about changing the world. Now, eighteen years later, I watched the movie again. I’d seen it a few times since, but I feel like today when I watched the movie, I watched it for the first time. Maybe it’s because now I’ve read more about South Africa. I’ve finally read more about the history. I’ve read some stories of black people’s struggles in apartheid South Africa. I’ve even studied more about what we’ve even done here in the United States to people of color. I truly know more. And I feel pained knowing how we humans have historically and still do treat one another. Watching this movie today helped me realize that my desire to change the world continues to grow, though I know that we have a long battle ahead of us. I think that’s part of what The Power of One is all about, teaching us all to step up and band together as one to make the world a better place for all.
The Power of One is the story of P.K., a young man with English roots who grew up on a farm in South Africa. He attends a boarding school run by Afrikaans where he is the only English boy. For this, he is severely hated. When his mother dies, he ends up staying with his grandfather who knows nothing about how to raise a child or even communicate with children. P.K. becomes acquainted with his grandfather’s friend Doc, a German musician whose family was killed by Hitler. Doc teaches P.K. about music and when Doc lands in prison for not obtaining the proper documents to live in South Africa, P.K. visits him every day. P. K. eventually learns to box, thanks to Geel Piet, a black prisoner friend he makes. It is Geel Piet who starts the rumor that P.K. is a rainmaker, a person who would bring change to South Africa and help bring the tribes together. Much more happens in this movie. P.K. meets a girl, wins boxing matches, and helps black South Africans learn to read and write English. This movie is amazing and because I want you all to see it, I’m not going to tell you every detail. Please watch it.
I’d also like to encourage all of us to not just watch it but perhaps to dig a little deeper. After you watch it, think about this story and the similar stories people are living around the world and even here in America. Why, for example, are our schools in the U.S. still segregated? Maybe it’s not a written rule, but have you ever looked at the maps of racial distribution by neighborhoods? We’ve continued to separate ourselves though we claim in our constitution that all men (still don’t get why we can’t say “people” here) are created equal. The truth is, of course, that we’re not all equal and we haven’t been treated equally… ever. There are differences in every single person, thus we shouldn’t aspire to be equal (who has to give up their culture to become “equal” anyway?). Rather than pretending to treat one another equally, we ought to be providing equitable opportunities for all and that means that sometimes, people who come from marginalized backgrounds deserve the extra boost to help them succeed in this strange world of ours.
I’m sure that today I could have finished watching this movie and said, “Cool. This was fantastic. You’ve got to watch it.” And then I could go off and forget about it. Sometimes we humans read things that are inspirational or watch things that make us want to change the world and then we go on with our lives. I really don’t want to have that surface-level desire to change the world. I really want to be an agent for change. That’s why I’m writing this post right now. I want to be a better change agent. I’ve got to stand up for inclusion and equity for all people. It’s not an easy position to be in at times. But it’s what I care about and what I value. So I’m going to do my best and try. Wanna join?
Tata for now.