10. Albert Einstein
He made in a difference in how we see space and time but his wisdom extended to matters of life, too.
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
More quotes from Einstein
9. Mahatma Gandhi
“Be the change you want to see in the world”
Employing non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world
8. Margaret Thatcher
One of the first elected female leaders of a nation (Great Britain). I know some of her policies were controversial, but she gave me hope that one day we'll see a woman elected to president in the U.S.
“Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”
More quotes from Thatcher
7. Mikhail Gorbachev
Received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the Cold War. I recently had the great privilege of hearing him speak at the University of Wyoming. When asked which person or persons had been most influential to him, he replied: "literature" (see #2).
6. Martin Luther King Jr.
The youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other nonviolent means.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
More quotes from King
5. Helen Keller
A world-famous speaker, author, suffragist, pacifist and advocate for people with disabilities - achieving all this being both deaf and blind.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart”
4. C.S. Lewis
The most thought-provoking author I have ever read. He wrote over 30 books, perhaps most famous for the Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity, though Till We Have Faces is one of my personal favorites.
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
More quotes from Lewis
3. Mother Teresa
For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying in India, later expanding her missionary organization to reach the destitute in 123 other countries
"If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
More quotes from Mother Teresa
Reading literature is access to the collected wisdom of thousands of people over thousands of years - told in the most powerful, memorable and lasting forms: stories.
1. Everyday people who make a difference
We can make a difference everyday in so many small ways, that still matter. A smile, an encouraging word, overlooking an offense, not judging, taking time to listen, resisting road-rage, random acts of kindness, generosity, paying it forward.
More than any other of my 25 A-Z lists, I am eager to hear who you consider to be a great person and why. Please, please, tell me.