Historian and U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart recently published a very thought-provoking book titled: The Mark of a Giant: 7 People Who Changed the World. In the introduction, Stewart writes: “As long ago as 1159 AD, John of Salibury wrote: ‘Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.’ This book is about seven of those giants, seven men and women who left their mark upon the world in which we live now.”
Essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke of the role of Providence in creating great men and women to help mankind. In his eloquent eulogy for Abraham Lincoln, Emerson wrote: “There is a serene Providence which rules the nations… It makes its own instruments, creates the man for the time, trains him in poverty, inspires his genius, and arms him for the task.” In this context, Stewart asks: are these seven giants truly gifts from God? Are they the product of their own genius and gifts? What character traits do they share in common? Were they merely in the right place at the right time?
As with any list, one can endlessly debate about who was included or excluded, but the impact that these seven remarkable human beings had on the modern world is undeniable; we will forever walk in the shadow of these giants. Stewart’s book also inspires the reader to contemplate about other “giants” in history — particularly those whose achievements or writings made a direct impact on their own lives.
And who are the seven people who changed the world?
1. Abraham of Ur (dates unknown)
2. Pericles (495 – 429 BC)
3. Saul of Tarsus, known as Paul the Apostle or Saint Paul (c. 5 – 67)
4. Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
5. Marie Curie (1867-1934)
6. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
7. Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, known as Sister Teresa (1910-1997)
For further reading: Mark of a Giant: Seven People Who Changed the World by Ted Stewart, Shadow Mountain (2013)