"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow - Don't walk behind me, I may not lead - Just walk beside me and be my friend."
PEOPLE I LOVE, ADMIRE AND WOULD BE PROUD TO HAVE AS MY FRIENDS
(Not listed in order of preference)
This remarkable woman remains to this day the one person I am most in total awe of. To bring this fact home to you, whenever I am faced with what I perceive to be an emotionally overwhelming situation in my life, all I need to do is picture the face of Ms. Helen Keller and immediately I am deeply humbled...
Helen Keller was born in 1880 a completely healthy child. In 1882 she developed a fever so severe, that it left her both blind, deaf and as a result, unable to speak. Being fortunate enough to have lived my entire life possessing all five of my senses, I truly cannot presume to tell you that I "UNDERSTAND" what Ms. Keller must have been through. I CAN, however, honestly tell you that she will ALWAYS have my profound respect as well as my undying admiration for having surmounted what to ME, are INCREDIBLE odds...
Thank goodness Helen Keller had the kind of Mother and Father that I wish every single ONE of us would have!!! Not only were Mr. and Mrs. Keller able to provide their disabled daughter with the kind of EMOTIONAL lifestyle that every child deserves, but in addition, they were fortunate enough FINANCIALLY to be able to provide their daughter with an opportunity of reaching her fullest potential. They DID this for her by employing the assistance of her much treasured teacher and dear friend Anne Sullivan, (an amazing woman in her OWN right who I admire greatly) who ultimatelytaught Ms. Keller to "see," "hear," and "speak" through her fingers!!!!!!!!!!! In order to DO this, Helen had to first learn the art of sign language and just TRY TO IMAGINE how difficult a task THAT had to be for her!!!
It was soon discovered that Ms. Keller was a highly intelligent, as well as a deeply sensitive, caring and "never-give-up" type of individual, and it was these exact personality traits that caused this amazing human being to go on to graduate college with honors, as well as become a world- renowned author, lecturer, and activist.
I myself own a wooden plaque on which this quote from Helen Keller is written: "The most beautiful things of the world are not seen with the eyes but felt with the heart."
If ANYBODY tried to live her life in the name of Jesus Christ and succeeded, it was Mother Teresa.
In MY opinion, Mother Teresa was actually as GENUINE and as SAINTLIKE as she APPEAREDto be, with not one phony bone in her entire caring body. In FACT, when I think of THIS marvelous and beautiful human being, the words "COMPLETELY SELFLESS" come into to my mind, for to ME, she truly WAS...
Her birth name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu and she was born in 1910. When she was 18 years old, she joined the Order of the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto in Ireland. She trained in Dublin, where the motherhouse of the Loreto Sisters was and it was then that she chose the name of Sister Teresa, in memory of Saint Thersa of Lisieux.
In 1928 the young nun began a journey to India and in 1929 she arrived at Calcutta to teach at a school for girls. It was while she was in Calcutta that she witnessed the pain of the sick and the dying and her compassionate heart was deeply touched.
It was in 1946 (In Darjeeling, which is located at the base of the Himalayan Mountains) that Mother Teresa knew for certain that she had experienced her calling to take care of the sick and the dying, so that is exactly what she started to do. After creating her OWN order of sisters (The Missionaries of Charity), Mother Teresa began doing the work that she was definitely BORN for.
As my boyfriend Chris pointed out to me, the way in which she DID this work, was to actually go out among the population HERSELF, and search for whoever was sick and dying. Eventually, she would come across these people who were lying neglected in the streets and once she DID, she would physically hold them in her arms and give words of comfort to each and every one of them by letting them know that they were NEVER ALONE and were ALL unconditionally loved by both her and Jesus Christ...To Chris and I, this incredibly beautiful act of allowing these people to depart from their lives in such a way, profoundly touched us deep inside our hearts...
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Before Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.,
there was the great Henry David Thoreau. He was an American essayist,
poet, philosopher and an extreme lover of Mother Nature as well as her vast array of beautiful children.
It was his essay entitled, "Civil Disobedience" which influenced both Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. so in essence I consider him to be the Father of the movements of Non-Violence/Civil Disobedience.
"Civil Disobedience" which he wrote in the year 1849, was a result of a overnight visit in 1846 in a jail, after being arrested for refusing to pay his taxes in protest against the Mexican War and the extension of slavery. Subsequently, Thoreau lectured and wrote about the evils of slavery and helped fleeing slaves, for which I highly commend him.
Thoreau lived on the shores of a famously named pond, which is located in Concord, Massachusetts, in the United States of America. He lived there for two years starting in the summer of 1845 and his account of his experience became one of the most famous books ever written by an American, which is known by nearly every single person who is into poetry, my dears.
Ok...I'll give you your chance...do YOU know the name of this pond which has since given birth to the book which bears the name of the same? LOL ;)
The pond is called, "Walden" and the book is called "Walden" which is also known as, "Life in the Woods," and wow, was this man a man of extreme sensitivity and articulation.
In 1990 one of the founding members of the rock band called, "the Eagles" a Mr. Don Henley, created The Walden Woods Project to prevent the area around Walden Pond from being developed.
MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI
When you think of the word "non-violence" there is one man whose name immediately comes to most people's minds and that name is none other than Mohandas K. Gandhi.
In his autobiography, "The Story of My Experiments with Truth" This exceptionally humble as well as HONEST human being made the statement that he was not comfortable with being called, "Mahatma" which means Great Soul and this alone should give you an idea of his personality. When you think of the word "non-violence" there is one man whose name immediately comes to most people's minds and that name is none other than Mohandas K. Gandhi. In his autobiography, "The Story of My Experiments with Truth" This exceptionally humble as well as HONEST human being made the statement that he was not comfortable with being called, "Mahatma" which means Great Soul and this alone should give you an idea of his personality.
Gandhi was influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ and Henry David Thoreau, especially Thoreau's famous essay called, "Civil Disobedience." As a British-educated lawyer, Gandhi first employed his ideas of peaceful civil disobedience in the Indian community's struggle for civil rights in South Africa. He upheld the principles of Ahimsa (non-injury), Swaraj (self rule), Swadeshi (self sufficiency), Satyagraha (truth as a medium of protest). He instructed the people not to wear foreign clothes or use foreign goods. He told them to make their own clothes using handlooms and the cloth that they wore was known as Khadi. Even Gandhi made his own clothes by using a Charkha (spinning wheel), which became the symbol of prosperity and integrity of India.
He went straight to the heart of violence and walked barefoot through the remote, ravaged villages in India as a one-man force for non-violence and peace. “He who trembles or takes to the heels, the moment he sees two people fighting, is not non-violent, but a coward. A non-violent person will lay down his life in preventing such quarrels” said Gandhi and he truly justified it. He followed a vegetarian diet, and used rigorous fasts for long periods of time for both self-purification as well as non-violent protest in order to get people to cease their own violence.
There is something that I want to confess to you now. When I first began this website, I had Gandhi on this page as one of my favorite people as well as role model for my own non-violent leanings and beliefs and then I decided to visit a gun control message board here in the Internet where I allowed myself to be influenced by a few people who I now know had twisted this statement by Gandhi which can be found on page 446 of his autobiography: ‘‘Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.’’ You see since like Gandhi, I too despise guns and everything that they represent, I sincerely do not believe in my deepest heart of hearts that responsible, law-abiding human beings who have first gone through a background check should have to be forced to endure any type of societal prejudice that would cause them to feel that their guns ought to be taken away from them as long as the rest of the world is allowed to keep their own.
Two quotes that deeply affect me from Gandhi are: “My life is my message” and "We must become the change we want to see in the world."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Dr. King's roots lie in the African-American Baptist church as he was the grandson of the Rev. A.D. Williams, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church and a founder of Atlanta, Georgia's NAACP chapter. Dr. King's father, Martin Luther King, Sr., was ALSO a pastor of this very same church and he ALSO became a civil right's leader.
On December 5, 1955 five days after Montgomery, Alabama civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to obey the city's APPALLING and DEHUMANIZING rules stating that blacks and whites must be segregated on the city's buses (she was told to go sit in the back of the bus), black residents of the city went on a boycott. During this boycott, they elected Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as president ofthe newly-formed Montgomery Improvement Association. In 1956, while the boycott continued, Dr.King gained much-deserved national prominence by the use of his sterling personality traits.Despite many trials and tribulations, in December 1956, Montgomery buses were finally desegregated after the United States Supreme Court declared Alabama's segregation laws unconstitutional. THANK YOU.
This beautiful human being continued his great amount of good by being instrumental in getting the government to allow black citizens to vote. He spoke at the Lincoln Memorial during the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom and in 1958, published his first book, "Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story." In 1959, he toured India, and there he was able to increase his knowledge and understanding of Mahatma Gandhi.
Dr. King attempted to reach and change his world by way of speaking to the younger generation and I highly commend him from the bottom of my heart for trying so hard to accomplish his "dream." On August 28, 1963, this now famous "I Have a Dream" speech attracted more than 250,000 protesters to Washington, D.C. Again speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King spoke his deeply moving as well as awesomely powerful words not only to his OWN people, but to EVERY person in the entire world who truly cared about the fate of human race as a single entity...He DID make a difference in our world!!!!! and he did it without the use of violence in ANY form!!!!!!!
People, I am IMPLORING us now to not allow the violent death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to be in vain...PLEASE...We CAN do our parts to bring an end to all of this horrible violence going on around us!!!! Just THINK about it, and you'll realize that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!
I've loved this extraordinary human being from the moment I first heard of her...
Princess Diana rose to meet the challenges in her life with an inner strength that even SHE didn't realize that she possessed and she overcame them with flying colors using her wit, style, humor, charm and grace.
In MY humble opinion, if asked what she would like me to say about her right NOW, I believe that Princess Diana would rather I speak about the kind of MOTHER that she was to her precious two children as well as the kind of PERSON that she was to the REST of the world, than about "Diana the Princess" and her mostly unhappy personal life as a result of her marriage into the Royal Family.
Because of my continued love and respect for the "People's Princess" I choose to see Diana for exactly the person that she WAS, and with her beloved children in mind, I will now speak about how I viewed her as a Mother...
Princess Diana was the best kind of Mother that any child could ever HOPE for. The sun rose and set around her two sons and whatever she tried to DO for them, she did with the knowledge and the hope that she was preparing them to live in a world where they would grow up to treat ALL LIVING THINGS around them with the very same compassionate heart and soul that SHE had...According to MY estimations, she did a SUPERB job in this area, and I only hope that they never, EVER forget the lessons that she taught them...
Now as far as the kind of PERSON that she was to the REST of the world, all you need to do is ask practically ANYBODY you come across to share their thoughts and feelings regarding Princes Diana. and they will more than likely tell you that she was without a doubt, one of most giving and compassionate human beings on the face of the Earth. In THIS way Princess Diana reminded me of MotherTeresa, in that she, TOO, felt within her beautiful heart, that she needed to do WHATEVER SHE COULD to alleviate the emotional pain of the sick and the dying by letting them not only interact with her VERBALLY, but allowing them to touch her PHYSICALLY. By DOING so, people knew that she was there for them and loved them unconditionally.
I believe that even though we've recently lost Mother Teresa and Princess Diana, we hold within ourselves the power to keep BOTH of them alive FOREVER...All we have to do is to simply follow their shining examples JUST A LITTLE BIT EVERY DAY, and THIS way, they will ALWAYS live within us and in our future generations to come!!
Stylish, graceful, elegant, talented, sensitive, charming and radiant. These are the words that in my as well as MANY people's opinions, best describe one of my favorite actresses and people.
What an exemplary life this woman has led! From the time she was a very young girl until her tragic death of colon cancer in 1993, Audrey Hepburn has proven herself to be a human being who was capable of extraordinary things. For example, as a young girl during World War II, she performed in underground concerts to raise funds for the Dutch Resistance and she ALSO acted as a courier, believe it or not!
When she became older, she began to model and she also found work as an occasional actress. She was appearing in a bit-part role on a film shoot in the South of France when she met the French author Colette, who asked her if she would like to play the title role in a Broadway adaption of her novel, Gigi. From this springboard, her movie roles became history, with such unforgettable roles as the ones that she played in Roman Holiday (she earned a Best Actress Oscar for her performance), Sabrina, The Nun's Story and MY personal favorite, Breakfast at Tiffany's, to name but a few.
Since during the 1970's Ms. Hepburn decided that she wanted to place the raising of her family in the foreground of her life, naturally that didn't leave her much time for the persuit of her career, but of course this was a personal decision and one that I deeply applaud.
1988 this wonderful woman did something so incredibly generous and
that I'm certain that she earned even MORE respect and admiration from
her legion of fans, when she became a special ambassador to the
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
She ended up spending the last years of her life doing tireless work
needy children, focusing mainly upon Africa and Latin America. I
Ah yes...she was truly a gifted individual in more ways than one.
WHY do I think this woman is so marvelous? well to BEGIN with, not only was Joan Baez a gifted folksinger, but she was an influential non-violent activist as well!
Her clear, soothing and yet powerful singing voice is one that once you HEAR it, it is not quickly forgotten.
The year 1956 was obviously an important one for young Joan, since it was during THIS year that she bought her first guitar as well as had the opportunity to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. speak about non-violence and civil rights.
Whatever information she digested, must have had a huge impact upon her being, because in 1957, while the rest of her high school class participated in an air-raid drill, Joan refused to do so, sticking to her newfound convictions. It was ALSO during this year that Joan met Gandian scholar, Ira Sandperl, who became one of her strongest political influences.
I absolutely LOVE the fact that in 1962, amidst a country deep in the civil rights movement, she was brave enough and bold enough to conduct the first of three concert tours to Southern college campuses with a strict no-discrimination policy for her audiences.
I absolutely LOVE the fact that in 1963, her loyalty for her friend and fellow folksinger Pete Seeger was more important to her than furthering her own celebrity agenda, that when she was asked to appear on the television show "Hootenanny," not only did she say no to them since they had banned Pete Seeger (they did not agree with his political views), but she led an artist boycott of the show which ended up being much publicized.
I absolutely LOVE the fact that in August of this same year, she sang, "We Shall Overcome" before an approximately aquarter million people at the Martin Luther King, Jr. civil rights march in Washington, D.C.
I absolutely LOVE the fact that in 1964, she withheld 60% of her income taxes, which was the determined amount which would have been used for military purposes during the war in Viet Nam. Despite the fact that the IRS retaliated by placing a lien against her, this fantastic woman continued to withhold portions of her taxes for the next ten years. She continuing protesting not only this unconscionable war in various ways and by various means, but also the unconscionable manner in which black individuals were being treated.
I absolutely LOVE the fact that while all this was going on, her career took off.
I absolutely LOVE the fact that in 1980, in recognition of her political activism and the "universality of her music," she was bestowed Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees by both Antioch University and Rutgers University.
I absolutely LOVE the fact that despite being ostracized, criticized and the object of numerous death threats, Joan Baez walked and STILL walks erect, proud and ever strong along her chosen path in life.
These are just a few of the fabulous accomplishments that this extraordinary woman has under her belt. There are many, many, many more.
I just KNOW that should we ever have the opportunity to meet, we would talk and talk for hours, since we feel the exact same way about so many issues.
I for one, hope whatever causes that this lady becomes involved with turns out exactly the way she DESIRES them to turn out.
JOHN WINSTON ONO LENNON
His parents named him John Winston Lennon when he arrived but he left this world as John Winston Ono Lennon and in my opinion, he was one of the most multi-talented, complex human beings to ever have lived IN it.
So what has this man done to have earned a place here on my page? well let's see...yes, he was a member of the world's most famous band (I believe it was called....ah....um...the Beatles? LOL) but I didn't put him on this page despite the fact that he provides me with some of the most incredible music and lyrics I have ever heard, I put him on this page for his genuine interest in focusing the world on how we can be more peaceful and loving.
In 1969, he began this worthy mission, joined by his soulmate and new wife, Yoko Ono. Their first gesture together for peace was demonstrated when they decided to spend their honeymoon in bed staging their now famous "bed-in" at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel. He said at the time, "We're taying in bed for a week, to register our protest against all the suffering and violence in the world." Fabulous gesture, don't you agree?" During that same year, their next famous gesture was called, "Acorns For Peace" because they decided to mail acorns to world leaders asking them to plant the acorns in the name of world peace. Their next fantastic gesture was also in 1969 when during the last week of May into the first week of June, John and Yoko flew to Montreal, Canada where they spent another week crusading for peace in our world. This time it was in their bed at the Elizabeth Hotel and it too became well-known as part of their "bed-in for peace." They invited their friends as well as many people who wanted to participate in the historical musical recording of, "Give Peace a Chance."
As this phenomenal year began to draw to a close, The newly formed Plastic Ono Band, which included John, Yoko, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Keith Moon, and others gave a Peace for Christmas concert in London, England to support the efforts of UNICEF. In 11 cities around the world, billboards appeared with the message: "War Is Over! If You Want It. Happy Christmas from John and Yoko." What an awesome idea THAT was!! A short time after this billboard idea, John and Yoko flew to Ottawa, Canada and met with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The topic of discussion? what do YOU think? ;) Later they had been reported to state that, "If all politicians were like Trudeau there would be world peace."
In 1972, he and Yoko gave a charity concert which was held in New York City's Madison Square Garden. The reason they did this concert that day was the fact that they were moved to help raise funds to improve the living conditions of mentally handicapped children. Being a person who has worked with the handicapped population myself, knowing that he has given of his talent in this particular way, has only served to deepen my respect and love for this man.
I do not wish to dwell upon his shockingly violent death my readers, for to me his spirit will always shine on not only through his music but through his actions for a less violent existence on this planet of ours. In my heart I believe that John Lennon had the potential to become as great a peacemaker as Martin Luther King Jr.
SIR ELTON JOHN
Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, this amazing multi-talented entertainer began to show an interest in the piano at just the tender age of four. At age eleven, "Reggie" entered the Royal Academy of Music, but left just prior to his graduation because he wanted to become...a rock musician! Even though his father (who wanted his son to become a banker) had decided to ban rock music from their household, Reggie's mother (intuitive and sensitive soul that she was) smuggled such stuff as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis into their home. Reggie began playing in local bands, including Bluesology, the backing group for singer John Baldry. Due to the influence of Baldry and saxophonist Elton Dean, Reggie decided to pay tribute to them by adopting their names as his own.
In 1967, Elton met lyricist Bernie Taupin (through an ad in a London paper) and by 1971, the two geniuses became the first act since the Beatles to have four albums in the American Top 10 simultaneously. Apparently their genius continued to be recognized throughout the world, for as time went on, Elton's star shone brighter. In the mid '70's, Elton appeared in the Who's rock opera film, "Tommy." he was on the cover of Time magazine; had his star placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; played two concerts in L.A. to more than 100,000 people; and co-wrote a No. 1 hit with his dear friend John Lennon titled "Whatever Gets You Through the Night."
Together, Elton and Bernie scored twenty-three Top 40 hits, fifteen Top 10 singles, and five No. 1 songs.
During the '80's, Elton played a free concert in New York City's Central Park and delighted 400,000 people. He now began to adopt a more subdued stage and personal demeanor from the flamboyant and glamorous one that he had previously employed. Although he announced his bisexuality in 1976, he married in 1984. Unfortunately for Elton and Renate, their marriage lasted only four short years.
In the late eighties, Elton befriended Ryan White, a young hemophiliac boy suffering from AIDS and the two (as well as Ryan's family) formed a close personal friendship. When Ryan passed away in 1990, Elton was there at his bedside. He performed at Ryan's funeral and then Elton began a life of introspection. He announced that he was checking into rehab for treatment of drug and alcohol addition and bulimia as well. He also decided to tell the public that he was a gay man and not bisexual, (which unfortunately due to our still mainly homophobic inclined society), took a TREMENDOUS amount of courage for him to do.
'90's were very exhilirating as well as traumatic years for Elton, as
saw him becoming clean and sober, deciding that all profits from his
would be donated to AIDS charities, and forming the Elton John AIDS
which went on to become one of the world's largest nonprofit
He also formed an alliance with Disney, earned five Grammy Award
and took home Best Male Pop Vocal. He was also nominated for three
Awards, and took home the Oscar for Best Achievement in Music for the
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight." He was inducted into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame, suffered two deep, tragic losses (his dear friends Gianni
Versace and Princess Diana), and was knighted Sir Reginald Kenneth
by the Queen of England. He teamed up with Tim Rice ("The Lion
on the Disney musical, "Aida" based upon Verdi's "Aida," he is still
concert tours (the most recent with Billy Joel) and the way he is
the sky is the limit for my favorite singer/musician! As I've
numerous times before (to anybody who knows me), I will always be
for what his talent has meant to MY
MATTIE J.T. STEPANEK
<>The first time I saw him being interviewed on the Larry King Show, I just sat there growing more awestruck by the moment as it dawned upon me that I was experiencing an amazing, incredible personality that was emanating from this young man's heart and soul. His chronological age at the time may have been twelve, but his mental age was far, far older and infinitely wiser. >
Mattie began writing poetry when he was three years old. "I write to express my thoughts and feelings," he explains. You hear the word "heartsongs" a lot in his work. "Your heartsong is your inner beauty," says Mattie. "It's the song in your heart that wants you to help make yourself a better person, and to help other people do the same. Everybody has one."
Because I want you to know him the way he saw himself, here, in his own words, Mattie describes himself and his life:
"I have a rare form of muscular dystrophy called mitochondrial myopathy, and I also have something called dysautonomia. That means that my 'automatic' systems, like breathing, heart rate, body temperature, oxygenation, digestion, and things like that don't always work well on their own.
So, I use extra oxygen all the time, and when I am tired or sleeping, I use a ventilator that breathes for me and some other machines, too. I also use a power wheelchair much of the time to save energy and move my medical equipment around. My two brothers and one sister died during childhood from the same thing I have, and my mother uses a power wheelchair all the time because she has the adult form of this disability.
I love to read, write, and do public speaking at conferences and seminars. This year (2000) I was chosen to be the Maryland State Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I get to participate in many fundraising events that will help find a cure for neuromuscular diseases, and support children and families in celebrating life during the time before a cure is found. I also enjoy playing with Legos, drawing, Pokemon, and studying about famous people and the Martial Arts (I have earned a 1st Degree Black Belt in a Korean art similar to Tae Kwon Do).
When I grow up, I want to be a peacemaker. My biggest role model for this is Jimmy Carter, who has been a wonderful peanut farmer, politician, and peacemaker... I call him the 'perfect hero.' I would like to work as a mediator and share my poetry, essays, and philosophy with others so that they may be inspired to work with other people, too. I want people to know that in every life there are storms. But we must remember to play after every storm and to celebrate the gift of life as we have it, or else life becomes a task, rather than a gift. We must always listen to the song in our heart, and share that song with others."
June 22, 2004 I cried very hard when I heard that Mattie passed
I truly believe that somewhere on another spiritual plane, there is an
extremely riveted audience who is listening to him speak. I plan on
all of his books, because I want to keep his magic with me forever.