The philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson asserted that “all history is biography”—it is individuals, after all, who shape history. Obituaries are micro-biographies and can be regarded therefore, like much journalism, as a first take on history. They are snapshots of extraordinary or unusual lives that have helped to shape history. They act as shorthand for historical record.
These obituaries are of those who pioneered, or were associated with, the international work of Initiatives of Change, formerly known as MRA (Moral Re-Armament). The obituaries act as a social record of a global movement which has laid claim to have changed the course of history in a whole range of endeavours—politics and diplomacy, business and industry, theatre and the arts, sports and the media, race and community relations, education and healthcare, development and international affairs. I have had the privilege of recording some of their lives. I hope these obituaries capture something of the subjects’ inner lives, struggles and motivations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” (Though if one has any notion of an afterlife, then what lies before us becomes all too pertinent!)
No one in this collection would have regarded themselves as a saint so much as a forgiven sinner. As Oscar Wilde wrote, in his play Lady Windermere’s Fan, “Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future”. But they have all lived adventurous, fulfilled and even heroic lives. They have played their part in changing the world; they have left it a better place. In so doing they can perhaps be numbered among the company of saints. A new generation now carries forward the work that they pioneered. Readers will be equally inspired to follow their own adventurous callings in life.
Honorary member, International Association of Obituarists