How to make a real difference

We live in an age of Celebrity where people can be famous simply for being famous.

Peter Baker | 21:30, Monday, 25 October 2011

The Tank Man is an exception to the rule.  He’s the extraordinary individual who stood defiantly in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989.  

In an act of unbelievable courage, he stood in the way of an approaching tank. Holding what looked like shopping bags in both hands, he waved the government troops away. As the lead tank manoeuvred to avoid him so the man blocked its path. First to the left, then to the right.  In a dance of death, the tank came within feet of him. The odds were impossibly high. There could surely only be one outcome. Yet he jumped on the tank and appeared to talk to the soldiers inside. The driver opened the hatch. The protester clambered down and remained rooted to the spot. Then some people rushed towards him and ushered him out of harm's way. He was never seen again. Was he jailed or killed? No-one knows. His name, age and much else remain a mystery.

He simply came to be known as Tank Man. His status as a hero of liberty guaranteed.  

Why he did what he did, who knows? I doubt very much that he had any intention of making a name for himself. 

His anonymity is refreshing. He reminds us that you don’t have to be a Steve Jobs to change the world. His action made a difference to the way the Tiananmen Square massacre was perceived. 

His example challenges us to find our identity not necessarily in being recognised but through those acts of kindness, bravery and compassion, often unnoticed and unsung, which can nevertheless make a real difference to other people. Jesus called this the servant leadership model. The motivation is not to be served but to serve. For in His Kingdom, where the last are first, the idea of celebrity seems rather irrelevant. 


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