Despite constant negative headlines, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the world is safer and more peaceful today than at any other point in human history. This did not happen by chance. Sometimes things improve because people set out to make a difference in their own lives and that of others.
The getAbstract library features numerous biographies of extraordinary people who’ve persevered against the odds and helped make the world a better place. The following three are particularly inspiring:
Warren Buffett started out as a young man with a simple goal in mind: to make money. Yet nothing in his early history as the son of a local businessman in the modest metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, would have singled him out as the greatest moneymaker of the modern era.
From his start selling packs of gum to neighbors up through his courageous investments in tumultuous financial markets, he emerged as one of the world’s wealthiest and most astute businessmen. All the more remarkable, Buffet ended up donating a big chunk of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which works to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty across the world.
“You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”
As the fifteenth child of soap maker Josiah Franklin, Benjamin Franklin started out with little help or money. After running away from his apprenticeship as a printer at age 17, young Benjamin drifted for several years before deciding that the best route to pursue was to work on his own self-development. At age 20, he created a system for self-improvement by practicing one out of 13 core life virtues every week.
This brought him to the first of his big successes, a subscription lending library. In order to gain access to books, he made them available to others and then distilled the fruits of his researches into Poor Richard’s Almanack, a pre-Revolutionary bestseller. By devoting himself to public life, Franklin ended up playing a central role in founding the American republic.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Nelson Mandela also started off simply, spending his childhood herding sheep and eating corn porridge. After the death of his father, he was adopted by a Thembu regent. As a young law student, he became involved in the fight for racial justice. Like Franklin, he realized that his country’s governing institutions were unable to protect the rights of his fellow citizens and started to fight the apartheid regime.
After spending 27 years in prison, Mandela emerged as a unifying figure in South African politics working with the country’s last Apartheid president, F. W. de Klerk, to bring about an amicable end to the oppressive regime. In 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with de Klerk and went on to become South Africa’s first popularly elected president.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Life presents plenty of opportunities to change the world in big and small ways – but a good starting point is striving to become a little better person every day, no matter the odds.