” Human greatness does not lie in wealth and power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.”
What are the characteristics of a great person?
I don’t know all the characteristics, but one major trait of a great person is that they ignite inspiration in others.
In this blog post, we’ll look at stories from people who changed the world.
Here we go:
1. Mahatma Gandhi
” In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
Born Mohandas Gandhi, he was a social activist and a lawyer during his life.
He was married at the age of 13, and that caused him to miss a year of schooling.
He went to study law in England, and when he came back to India, he had trouble finding a job related to his degree, so he agreed to a contract working at a firm in South Africa.
When he was in South Africa, he had many incidents of racial discrimination due to his nationality.
That led him to be an advocate for Indian rights in South Africa until he went back to India in 1914.
When he came back to India, he became a nationalist leader by involving himself in politics and organizing many nonviolent protests in the country against the ruling British.
Finally on August 15, 1947 , India became an independent country due to the nationalist movement by Mahatma Gandhi.
Sadly on January 30, 1948, he was assassinated.
His legacy made a positive impact on the world, and it influenced many people, including the next person we are going to talk about.
For more on his life work, I recommend you check out this one book by him on his philosophy for the world.
2. Martin Luther King Jr.
” We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S .
He came from a very religious family with his father and grandfather spending their lives as church preachers.
He struggled with segregation at a very young age. When he was about 6 years, he was friends with a white kid until the parents of the kid told them to stop hanging out due to segregation.
He attended segregated black schools, and at age 15, he went to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
After Morehouse, he went to a seminary school in Pennsylvania and from there, he went to Boston University where he met his future wife, Coretta Scott King.
His first job as a minister was at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and after the 1955 incident of Rosa Parks, he went on to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott for over a year, when the buses were finally desegregated.
In 1957, he was nominated president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference(SCLC) , which was an organization important in the Civil Rights Movement.
While in the SCLC, King traveled all around the country lecturing people on the issues of race-relations in the United States.
On August 28, 1963, he led a protest march to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C, where he delivered his world-famous “I Have A Dream” speech.
His efforts to promote equality helped him earn the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
About a year later, his efforts of non-violent protest led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Just 3 years later, while standing on the balcony of his motel room, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
A biography of Martin Luther King can be found here.
3. Benjamin Franklin
” Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706 and was the son of Josiah Franklin, who was a soap maker, and Abiah Folger.
At age 12, Benjamin became an apprentice for his older brother James, who was a printer.
Ben was always a writer, and when his older brother didn’t publish his writings, he wrote 14 letters with the fictional name “Silence Dogood” .
The letters were so entertaining that everyone wanted to know who “Silence Dogood” was.
The crazy thing was that when Ben admitted he was “Silence Dogood”, his brother James got angry.
When Ben was 17, he moved to Philadelphia, where he worked there as an apprentice printer.
Matter of fact, Ben did so well that the governor of Pennsylvania wanted him to start his own printing business if Ben sailed out to London to purchase printing supplies.
Once he reached London, he realized the governor cheated him, and he stayed in London.
After a while, he finally came back to Philadelphia and got married to his former sweetheart, Deborah Read.
Eventually, he and his wife Deborah ran their own printing shop, and Franklin started publishing newspapers, almanacs, and did many other projects to better his community.
Again, he went to London, but he returned back to America with a desire for independence.
When he came back, he was elected to the Second Continental Congress and he was one of the Founding Fathers of the Declaration of Independence.
Benjamin Franklin died at the age of 84 on April 17, 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
4. Nelson Mandela
” After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
He was born Rolihlahla Mandela in the village of Mvezo in Eastern Cape, South Africa.
His father was a tribal chief and he died when Mandela was only 9 years old, and he was adopted by a friend of his father.
He got the name Nelson when he was in school by his teacher when back then, it was common for teachers to give their students English names.
Nelson went to the University of Fort Hare, and when he came back to his home, his adopted father arranged him a marriage, so Mandela ran away.
In 1944, Mandela joined the ANC(African National Congress), which played a HUGE role in the fight to end apartheid in South Africa.
At first, he was for non-violence protests, but when the Sharpeville Massacre happened, Mandela started to change his mind.
That caused him to co-found an armed group called MK(Umkhonto we Sizwe) and he was arrested with many other people to serve a life sentence in prison.
He was in prison for 27 years until he was released by then president F.W de Klerk in 1990.
On May 10, 1994, Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president which turned the tide for this country.
After his presidential years, he decided to retire from public life and help the community.
Mandela died on December 5, 2013.
He wrote many books, including an autobiography. Get it here.
What did all these 4 great people have in common?
They fought for what was for the greater good.
Ben Franklin helped fight for the freedom of the United States, Martin Luther King was a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Mahatma Gandhi lead India to independence, and Nelson Mandela led South Africa to end apartheid.
Now, those are some hard things to beat, but what can you do NOW that will create a difference in society today?
Maybe you can start a non-profit, or feed the homeless…
Great people fight for what is good for themselves and most importantly – others.
” Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Always remember that YOU are AWESOME!!!