7 Poignant Quotes by 7 Humanitarians

In celebration of World Humanitarian Day.

The  Dalai Lama.

(Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock.com)

Words have the power to ignite social change and alter the course of history. This is the basic premise behind World Humanitarian Day’s campaign to turn words into aid for those in need. In celebration, we have selected seven of the world’s most influential and giving humanitarians and their most inspirational quotes about life - reflecting their dedication to universal kindness and justice.


“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

This iconic Indian leader led the country of India to independence from British colonial rule in 1947. A lawyer by trade, Gandhi adhered to the tenets of nonviolence - using a philosophy he coined called Satyagraha. Gandhi influenced and mobilized millions of people around the world to peacefully stand up for freedom and civil rights.


“My true religion is kindness.”

The Dalai Lama is the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader and has been advocating for Tibetans since the young age of 15.  Living in exile in India, the Dalai Lama travels the world spreading his message of compassion and peace.


“Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.” 

A renowned civil rights leader and activist, Martin Luther King Jr. was an American clergyman and the leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.  King was influenced by another humanitarian - Mahatma Gandhi - and preached nonviolence to achieve political and civil change. The Nobel Peace Prize winner stands as a symbol of justiceand a fighter for equality.


“Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back.” 

Known as the people’s princess, Diana did not shy away from helping others. She brought worldwide attention to those affected by HIV/AIDS in the 1980s when it was still considered a taboo subject. At one point, Diana was involved with over 100 charities, but later in life the Princess concentrated more intensely on causes such as eliminating landmines and AIDS.


“The true measure of the justice of a system is the amount of protection it guarantees to the weakest.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician who was placed under house arrest for 15 years for opposing the military-ruled government. As the chairperson of the National League of Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi has been an international symbol of hope and change, and is planning to run for presidency in 2015.


“Don't look for big things, just do small things with great love....The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.” 

The Albanian-born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu joined a missionary at the age of 18, and later became a nun and was renamed Mother Teresa. The devout woman embarked on a life helping those in need, settling in India and founding the Missionaries of Charity which is now active in 133 countries.


“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

After 48 years of apartheid, Nelson Mandela became the President of South Africa, the first person elected in a fully represented multiracial election. Affectionately nicknamed Madiba, Mandela focused his efforts on healing the country after decades of segregation by forming the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and advocating for human rights across the world.