From Gandhi to Marin Luther King Jr. How World Leaders Show Us that Character Matters? By Kenan Pala Francis Parker School What do Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr. have in common? They all had the courage to stand up for what they believed in, had the perseverance to never give up (even when the odds were stacked against them), and showed respect to everyone they came across — even their biggest enemies. If everyone on Earth showed the same amount of character as these men did, the world would transform into a much better place. There would be no more wars, no more killing, no more racism, and no more evil. Gandhi started a revolution without using any violence. Instead, he made his impact by showing respect. He treated the British with consideration and never actually viewed them as his enemies — even though they controlled his country and imprisoned him for many years. By simply approaching the British as if they were his friends, he was able to help India gain its independence. Gandhi’s story shows us the power of respect. It can give one person the power to do the unthinkable. Washington was a great patriot with amazing perseverance, citizenship, and self-discipline. His dream was to build a new nation, and against all odds, he was able to free America from the British — a military powerhouse that greatly outnumbered him but did not out-character him. Even when he lost battles and entire cities to his foe, he never gave in. He kept pressing forward, and in the end, he helped America become a free country. If not for Washington’s character, America would not be the great nation it is today. His story teaches us that perseverance can help anyone overcome odds and achieve their dreams. Finally, King was a man who showed true courage and compassion in his life as a civil rights leader. He took on a nation that viewed African-Americans as inferior, and he was brave enough to stand up and make speeches in front of people who wanted him (and everyone who looked like him) to have no rights. Even though much of the country did not agree with him, King never stopped fighting for the future of his race. He could not stand seeing kids and families having their lives taken away from them just because of the color of their skin. King gave his life to fight for the rights of all humans. To me, that is the very definition of courage. If Gandhi, Washington, and King never existed, our world would be a much more racist, discriminating, violent, cruel, and evil place. All three of these great leaders possessed feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that exemplify the ten badges of character, especially when it comes to respect, perseverance, citizenship, self-discipline, compassion, and courage. As a result, they were able to rally entire nations to fight for important causes. As a sixth grader, I have learned so much about the power of character by studying these men. Character does not just impact the individual who shows it; it can spread to entire nations or even the whole world. This has inspired me to try to be a better person every day by working hard, respecting myself and others, having the courage to speak up, showing the perseverance to never give up, and standing up for what I believe is right. I want to have the self-discipline to work hard, be honest, and show gratitude and integrity in everything I do. I believe that everything we say and do is a choice and that people of good character always try to do what’s right — even when no one is looking.