In my own life many of the people that I have worked with have been a great inspiration to me and helped to keep me moving forward when everything with me was crying ‘it can’t be done!’.
Having said all of that, the person I have chosen as my ‘significant other’ is William Wilberforce, undisputedly one of this nation’s greatest social reformers who demonstrated that one life can change the world. In a world where there is far more cynicism than idealism that’s an important thing to keep at the forefront of my mind.
Here are three of the many reasons.
Firstly, he had a noble cause. Don’t you find these days that the word ‘vision’ is over used. We have vision statements and the like which can often lose there meaning, becoming little more than rhetoric in a world where actions speak louder than words. I love the word cause, as it speaks of core values. It speaks of passion and tenacity, of single-mindedness and commitment. It asks fundamental questions of my own existence. Why am I alive? What am I here to accomplish? How can I leave a legacy for my world to remember?
Wilberforce was a man with a cause. He had a magnificent obsession; something that kept him awake at night and got him into all kinds of trouble. Today we often frown upon such extremism, with its many negative connotations, but we need to remember this is the stuff which changes the world. Mediocrity never changed a thing.
The second thing I admire about this great man is that he challenged the status quo. In his fight to abolish the slave trade, he came up against severe opposition. Whether this was demonstrated by the inertia and antagonism of the establishment or his own personal struggles with illness and identity, he wasn’t deterred. What is more, he didn’t wait until he had power to make a difference. Someone once said that the world steps aside for the person who knows where they are going. This is so true. Very often confidence comes before authority.
I find it much easier to ‘give up’ than to ‘give all’. However, when I consider the effect of giving up I realise it is a poor substitute for seeing lives changed for the better. In fact it’s at these times in my own life I have grown the most.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, William Wilberforce completed what he set out to achieve. History tells us that he died just 3 years after seeing his goal accomplished and the effect of his life lives on today. This is the kind of life I know we all want to live. One where we made an impact, one where we didn’t quit, one where we finished the race marked out for us.