KEEP FIGHTING FOR WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU
Lang Lang is a successful Chinese pianist. At the age of 36, he has already sold over a million Cds. He has had hundreds of concerts all over the world. At the age of 9 he left rural China to be able to study with professors, and he spent many nights in a very poor neighborhood. Leaving his mother behind in his town, he moved to a large city with his father. The cold was so severe that many times Lang Lang preferred to practice the piano than go to bed. His father forced him to practice all day, and Lang Lang explains today that he lost a great part of his adolescence and youth. His parents invested over half of their income for his studies. At the age of 5, he won his first piano competition among 500 children. But he doesn’t complain today. He learned how to overcome his circumstances and move forward. In 2008 he played at the opening of the Olympics, with an estimated audience of 5 billion people. When he was 17, he left China to move to the United States.
Lang Lang said, “I saw the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody Number II when I was two years old. Tom and Jerry were playing it together. So I thought, If a cat can play like that, why not me?”
Eleanor Roosevelt was born in the city of New York, to a high society family. Her life was not easy. Her mother died of diphtheria when she was 8 years old, and her father died an alcoholic in 1894 when she was 10. She was raised by her maternal grandmother. She married a distant cousin called Franklin, who became President of the United States. In times in which women had a more passive role, Eleanor influenced many reforms, even when her husband got ill with polio and ended in a wheel chair. She fought to reduce the labor hours, to establish minimum wages, and to eliminate child labor. She spoke in favor of racial equality and the rights of a women. She said, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Her husband died in 1945, at the end of World War II, but she continued working all her life. She said, “When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” At her funeral, these words were said of her, that she would rather light candles than curse the darkness and her glow had warmed the world.
Mary Blige is called today the queen of Hip Hop Soul. As a child she started singing at a Pentecostal church, and at the age of 5, was abused sexually by a relative. Her father had already abandoned the family. “I don’t remember having been treated well by anybody, except my grandmother. Since then, I had promised to never see a woman hurt.” She fulfilled her words years later. She abandoned high school, and in the midst of great poverty, she found herself doing karaoke at a nearby mall. That is how her career started.
In 2007 she started her own foundation, where she offers a variety of opportunities for women, education for adults and parents, social health and support for women in situations of violence and abuse. Mary says, “When women lose their self-esteem, they find themselves in a descending spiral of insecurity. My work is to train women.” But she had to start with herself first. She said, “I remember the times when I had nothing to give. But you can save a life. When somebody says I saved their life, it makes me happy.”
These three stories inspire us to get up each morning to ask ourselves, what thing of value will I do today?
Let’s be those that light a candle every day.