Respecting individual freedom and liberty is what human rights are about. As we celebrate the World Human Rights Day across the globe today on 10th of December, there are few inspiring souls who have helped others to live their lives with dignity.
Here are some of the world leaders and peace activists who had/have devoted their lives to bring a positive change in society through their relentless efforts.
1. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948)
Lovingly known as Mahatma Gandhi by his countrymen, he brought independence to India through his brilliant methods of non-violence. It is no wonder that his birthday on October 2 has been declared as International Day of Non-Violence by the United Nations General Assembly.
“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.”
2. B R Ambedkar (1891–1956)
Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, also known as Babasaheb Ambedkar was born in a family of Mahar caste of Hindu household, which is believed to be a caste of untouchables. Babasaheb was appointed as the Union Law Minister and Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee and to commemorate him, November 26 is celebrated as Constitution Day or Samvidhan Day of India. He was a great supporter of women’s liberation and Dalit rights.
“I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.”
3. Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
A Nobel Peace Prize awardee, Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to serving the poor and destitute across the globe. She is the founder of Missionaries of Charity and has spent many years in Calcutta, India to help poor and needy people. She was also canonized by the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Teresa in 2016.
“Peace begins with a smile.”
4. Oskar Schindler (1908–1974)
A member of Mazi party, Oskar Schindler was an ethnic German and Catholic. Even though he was a ruthless industrialist, he risked everything and rescued more than 1,000 Jews from deportation to Auschwitz during World War II. He died in Germany in 1974 and to honor his final wish, Oskar’s body was transferred and buried to Israel by the descendants of people he helped. The United States Holocaust Memorial Council posthumously presented the Museum’s Medal of Remembrance to Schindler in 1993.
“Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”
5. Nelson Mandela (1918–2013)
Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, on 18 July 1918. He went to prison for 27 years on the charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. In 1994, he became South Africa’s first black president. Always devoted to equality and learning, he never answered racism with racism.
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
6. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968)
Known for his role in African-American civil rights movement using nonviolent methods, Martin Luther King Jr. was an American clergyman and was the youngest man to receive Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35. Wherever there were injustice and protest, he traveled more than 6 million miles between 1957-1968. On the evening of April 4, 1968, he was assassinated before he was about to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of Tennessee.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
7. 14th Dalai Lama (1935– )
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for the liberation of Tibet and he became the first Nobel laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems. An advocate of peace and non-violence, spiritual leader of Tibet and a Buddhist monk, Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. He has received more than 150 awards and has co-authored more than 110 books.
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”