In the world today, there are three men that I admire: Kumi Naidoo, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, and Jack Ma. Each man is a leader of an international organization – two non-profit, one for profit.
Kumi Naidoo is the sometimes flamboyant executive director of Greenpeace. At 15 he was jailed in his native South Africa for his work in a partied. For many years after his release he lived and worked in South Africa always demonstrating concern for human rights and environmental protection. At the urgings of his daughter, he joined Green Peace. His candor about the need for environmental protection along with his physical presence in demonstrations against Arctic oil drilling earned him international respect. Recent financial problems within Green Peace have tarnished his reputation within the organization a bit. Nevertheless, since Mr. Naidoo was not involved in any scandal, the Green Peace and the international community continue to appreciate his words and actions.
Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al – Hussein from Jordan began his public career as a policeman. In that capacity he saw human activities that affected him for the rest of his life. Twenty years ago, he began working at the United Nations. Recently he became head of the United Nations Human Rights Division. At first glance, having a “prince” in such a position, seems contradictory. However, Prince Al – Hussein’s experiences as a policeman brought him into contact with elements of humanity which caused him to say upon his appointment, “I mean there’s a degree of villainy that is so disturbing and so beyond our ability to process mentally that it leaves you asking questions. It leaves you with the feeling that you’ve got to try to do what you can at some stage to prevent this”. Many prominent humanitarian leaders believe that Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al – Hussein has what it takes to aggressively address human suffering caused by Twenty-first century villains dressed in military gear or in three piece suits.
Jack Ma of China began as an English teacher. Fifteen years ago, he and a few others began an e-business known today as Alibaba. In this layman’s terms, Alibaba is like a giant e-market that inexpensively sees that goods and services are transferred/shipped to buyers all over the world. Last fall, Alibaba was offered on the New York Stock Exchange. That move made Jack Ma, the richest man in China. Today, Mr. Ma is worth 23 billion dollars. Why I admire Mr. Ma is not just that he helped to create a needed business, but what he said at a recent interview. He said words to the effect that when a person has billions of dollars, he/she has the task, the moral imperative, of improving world culture. As a former teacher, he wants to improve the culture of young people.
All of the men above could have lived comfortable lives. Instead, sometimes at great hardship, they continue to use their talents to make the world a better place. Notice, none of them are in sports, entertainment or politics.