In 1989 the Chinese military killed thousands of demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The next day a lone man in a white shirt stepped in front of a line of tanks moving nearby, and the videos of him stepping from side to side to block the tanks created an unforgettable image of conviction and protest.
After all these years, despite a great deal of investigation and theorizing, the identity of this protester remains a mystery. Without personal fame, this one man stood against—and brought to a halt—the world’s largest standing army and became a symbol of courage that few of us who saw it will ever forget.
Because his name was never discovered, many journalists and others began to call him Tank Man. It was unimaginable that a single man could have such power and inspire such feelings in our hearts.
We all can be Tank Man. We are surrounded by innumerable armies of those who wield the unthinkable power of pain, fear, anger, and confusion, and yet as individual men and women we can change the direction of all those forces around us with the even greater power of unconditional love. We can melt the anger in the hearts of our friends, bring peace to minds spinning with fear, and replace confusion with confidence.
Resolve today that you will be kind to a child or a friend. Express appreciation for a kindness previously unacknowledged. Offer gratitude instead of criticism. Intently listen until someone feels completely heard. In so doing, you stand in front of the tanks of the world, and you will make a difference. You will be noticed. And you will be happier, regardless of the effect you have on others.