A Lesson from History

"Even ordinary citizens can serve as agents of constructive change. Conventional wisdom says that if you want to play a significant role in history, you have to do something big. But it's small acts of leadership – refusing to move to the back of the bus, circulating a petition, organizing a strike – that eventually move mountains. Small acts of leadership, not big heroic acts, performed by like-minded people ultimately add up. Small acts of leadership slowly and effectively bring about constructive change." – ESM


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world." – Margaret Mead

This page is dedicated to ordinary citizens who are making the world a better place to live through "small acts of leadership."

Sarah Chayes, author of  The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban, has been living in Kandahar for over eight years. She went to Kandahar a month after Sept. 11, 2001, as a reporter for National Public Radio to cover the Taliban’s last stand. But she soon gave up reporting to direct Afghans for Civil Society, a nonprofit group working to help rebuild the country. She has recently launched a skin-care cooperative in Kandahar. Read her latest dispatch in The New York Times: A Voice from Kandahar.


Howard Zinn (1922-2010) was an historian and political activist. He is best known for A Peoples History of the United States, which presents American history through the eyes of those outside of the political and economic establishment."I don't believe it's possible to be neutral. The world is already moving in certain directions. And to be neutral, to be passive, in a situation like that, is to collaborate with what is going on. And I, as a teacher, don't want to be a collaborator....History is full of instances where people, against enormous odds, have come together to struggle for liberty and justice, and have won -- not often enough, of course, but enough to suggest how much more is possible.  The essential ingredients of these struggles for justice are human beings who, if only for a moment, if only while beset with fears, step out of line and do something, however small.  And even the smallest, most unheroic of acts adds to the store of kindling that may be ignited by some surprising circumstance into tumultuous change."   Howard Zinn, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train


Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!” – the only national radio/TV news program free of all corporate underwriting. The show’s “War and Peace Report” provides access to people and perspectives rarely viewed in the corporate-sponsored media."I really do think that if for one week in the United States, we saw the true face of war, we saw people's limbs sheared off, we saw kids blown apart…, war would be eradicated. Instead, what we see in the US media is the video war game. Our mission is to make dissent commonplace in America."  – Amy Goodman

The Dalai Lama is the temporal and the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. His life is guided by three major commitments: (1) the promotion of basic human values, (2) the fostering of inter-religious harmony, and (3) the welfare of the Tibetan people. "I
believe that to meet the challenge of the next century, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own -self, family, or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind." Dalai Lama