Morihei Ueshiba 1883 - 1969
“Those who are enlightened never stop forging themselves. The realizations of such masters cannot be expressed well in words or theories. The most perfect action echo the patterns found in nature.”
To me, O'Sensei is the person I admire most. He is the epitome of never giving up. He persisted and developed himself until the end.
Wang Zhang Zhai 1885 - 1963
Wang Xiang Zhai, brought standing meditation into the modern age. He was once asked to demonstrate his martial art in public; he just stood there and said this it it.
Tuvia Bielski 1906 - 1987
“Our revenge is to live. We may be hunted like animals but we will not become animals. We have all chosen this - to live free, like human beings, for as long as we can. Each day of freedom is a victory. And if we die trying to live, at least we die like human beings.”
Tuvia might seem like a weird choice but I can't think of anyone who fought against the Nazis and saved many people. After the war he came to NY started a moving company and taxi service. To think thousands of people got a ride by him never knowing he waged a serious resistance against the Nazi forces. You can see Daniel Craig play him a dramatization of his life called, Defiance
John Snow 1813 - 1858
Through his own intellectual desire about the 1854 cholera outbreak, he created epidemiology, John Snow tracked down all the cases of cholera in his neighborhood on his own time, he was an anesthesiologist at the time. He also created a dosage scale for the use of choloform and ether as an anesthetic. Pure genius! You can read about him in the book Ghost Map.
Leonardo Davinci 1452 - 1519
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” My grandfather told me about Davinci when I was a child. We often revere names like Gandalf and Merlin but truly if there real wizards Davinci would be one.
Barak Obama 1961 -
During the 2012 debate with Romney, Barak encouraged Romney to attack a point of that he made. After patiently waiting he totally did an intellectual Aikido move and turned it around on Romney. I knew at that moment he would win the election. Some of Obama's best lines can be seen here. Republicans tried to tear this guy down, and time and time again they failed. He outclassed them.
“I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas.... I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners-- an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins of every race and every hue scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.”
Charles Darwin 1809 - 1882
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” Darwin's persistence and drive to understand nature changed the world.
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simon 1475- 1564
"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." He is here because of his love of the human body. Looking at his work you can see he had an amazing view of humanity. He also hauled his own stones, made his own tools and hid in the caves when political fanatics went against his patrons.
Constantine Brancusi 1876 - 1957
“They are imbeciles who call my work abstract. That which they call abstract is the most realistic, because what is real is not the exterior but the idea, the essence of things.” He made absolutely beautiful sculptures and taught me about universal beauty and the importance of relativism.
Paul Cézanne 1839 - 1906
“One had to immerse oneself in one's surroundings and intensely study nature or one's subject to understand how to recreate it,” and “With an apple I will astonish Paris.” Cezanne didn't have a show until he was in his late 50s. I love his paintings but most of all I admire his commitment to understanding nature.