Once while Mahatma Gandhi’s train was pulling slowly out of the station, a reporter ran up to his compartment window. "Do you have a message I can take back to my people?" he asked.

It was Gandhi’s day of silence, respite from his demanding speaking schedule, so he didn’t reply. Instead, he scrawled a few words on a scrap of paper and passed it to the reporter: "My life is my message."

Gandhi worked throughout India attempting to be the change in the world that he hoped to see in it. A man of compassion and service to others, Gandhi lived his truth.

When you live what you believe – when you walk the talk – your life becomes your message, and one that can inspire others.

Gandhi, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and many other spiritual and inspirational leaders of our time have led lives that were ultimately about truth and compassion.

Yet you don’t have to be a spiritual master or enlightened being to bring your message to the world.

Two people you may have heard about come to mind.

Former mountaineer and author of Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson has dedicated his life to building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan – especially for girls. After a failed attempt to climb K2 in 1993, to repay the kindness he experienced in a remote village of the Karakoram mountains he promised to build a school there. That promise, and his message of peace through education, continues to expand and attest to the power of the humanitarian spirit. As of 2009, (according to the website) Mortenson has established or significantly supports 131 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Equally powerful is religious thinker and author Karen Armstrong’s efforts to create a global Charter of Compassion. Armstrong, who has written more than 20 books on faith and the major religions, studying what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common, says that at the essence of all religion is compassion. She says the central tenet of all religions is The Golden Rule i.e., treat all others as you wish to be treated, and she is working with religious and spiritual leaders around the world to implement this message in The Charter of Compassion. The Charter will be launched on November 12, 2009.

Whether our lives and actions reach others on a global scale, compassion – like charity – begins at home.

What’s my message? "Inner peace, world peace." Because you can only begin to bring peace to the world by being at peace, with yourself and those around you.

What's your message?

Author's Bio: 

I’m a girl from the Canadian prairies who likes wide-open spaces, fresh ideas, a great story, and inspiring environments, buildings and art of all kinds. I have written feature stories about architecture, urban, rural and lakeside living, cool neighbourhoods, and everything from business to pleasure (tourism and travel).

I believe that powerful writing, too, can link the artistic with the practical.

My feature writing has appeared in: Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, The Western Producer, The Cottager, Manitoba Business Magazine, Manitoba’s Northern Experience, Home & City, Manitoba Gardener, Ciao and up! (WestJet’s magazine).

Barbara Edie