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You Can Fight Tanks

As we start a new year, it’s our tradition to reflect on the past and plan to do better in the year to come.

Most goals focus on self-improvement — things we easily control. But what about the world around us? It’s big and complex. We ask “what difference can one person make?” and we answer by giving up before we start.

Individuals can make a difference. On 5 June 1989, the Chinese government continued its suppression of protests in Tiananmen Square. A column of tanks approached the scene of the protests. As the tanks approached, one man stepped into the road and stood in front of the lead tank. It seems clear from the pictures that he had just completed some shopping and had come upon the tanks unexpectedly. The lead tank tried to drive around him, but he moved again and again to block its path with his body. He stopped the tank column for several minutes before being forcibly removed. Though the tanks continued on their mission, the man had given the army pause and inspired the world. To this day, no one knows who he was; but we know that one man can make a difference.

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