5 Ways You Can Become an Everyday Hero

It’s easy to underestimate the power of one person’s influence. We think, What can I do? I am only one person. Even when I was the CEO of a company I often felt this way.

The truth is that each of us wields far more power than we could possibly imagine. However, most of us have never discovered this—or we have forgotten it.

A few years ago, my wife Gail and I saw a powerful movie called Freedom Writers, starring Hillary Swank. It is based on the true story of Erin Gruwell, a rookie school teacher assigned to a tough, newly-integrated school in Long Beach. The students are mostly Black, Latino, and Asian gangbangers who hate her even more than they hate each other.

Everyone had given up on these kids—even the school. The teacher who hired her exhorts her to forget about educating these hoodlums. The most she can hope for is to teach them something about obedience and not get too involved.

Even her Dad, who had been a liberal activist, pleads with her to find a new job. Fortunately for her students, Erin doesn’t have enough experience to listen to “reason” or be so cynical.

Instead, she begins to listen to the students in a way that no one has ever listened to them before. She takes on a second job—and eventually, a third—so that she can buy them books, take them on field trips, and introduce them to Holocaust survivors. She doesn’t let a lack of resources keep her from doing the right thing.

She also teaches them about the power of writing. She introduces them to The Diary of Anne Frank and requires them to journal about their experiences. Through this simple exercise, their lives are radically changed.

This experience was another reminder that each of us has the power to change our world. We may think we are powerless, but we are not.

Power is simply the courage to confront evil, take a stand for what is right, and then act to make things different.

This is all that Erin did and look at the ripple effect—the lives of her students, the example to other teachers, a book, a movie, and the list goes on.

The movie really impacted both of us. I want to be more like Erin. I have more power than I sometimes give myself credit for.

So do you.

Here are five ways you can exercise it:

  1. Stop ignoring the evil you encounter. The older I get, the easier it is to close my eyes to poverty, pain, injustice, and evil. I can order my life, so that I am never put in a position of seeing anything unpleasant. I can look without seeing. I’m continue to pray daily that “God gives me eyes to see and ears to hear.” You can’t be a change agent if you don’t perceive the needs around you.
  2. Stop over-thinking your response to it. I have an author friend who has a policy about giving to homeless people. He told me, “Every time I used to encounter a homeless person, I would go through all kinds of mental gyrations. If I give money to this person, will they just use it to buy alcohol or drugs? Why don’t they just get a job? Maybe it would be better if I offered them some work rather than just give them money?

    Then he read the words of Matthew 5:42, “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” He then decided to make a deal with God.

    Now, whenever he encounters a homeless person or a beggar, he gives them all the cash in his pocket. Sometimes that’s two dollars. Sometimes it’s a hundred. Regardless, he decided to stop over-thinking it and start living the Gospel. The money he gives is his gift to God.

    Frankly, I like his approach. I can come up with a thousand-and-one excuses why I shouldn’t get involved. I can way over-think my response. While I may not be able to do everything, I can do something. And something is usually better than nothing.

  3. Stop complaining about your lack of resources. Erin couldn’t get the school to give books to her students. So, she got a second job and bought the books herself. The students wanted to bring Miep Gies, the Dutch woman whose family hid Anne Frank and her family, to the school to lecture. The school didn’t have the budget, so the students held a series of fund-raisers to come up with the money.

    What’s my excuse? No matter what my station in life is, it’s easy to think I don’t have enough resources. My guess is that even Bill Gates feels inadequate in the face of the needs he encounters. Resources are never—and I mean never—the problem. The biggest challenge is simply my will to act.

  4. Start asking, “What is the right thing to do?” Let’s face it. The world needs heroes. It needs people who will be courageous and act on principle. But where can we find such people? Maybe the answer is closer than we think. The truth is it can start—and must start—with us.

    God has providentially put each of us exactly where we are. We need to ask, “Why am I here?” “What does God want me to do in this situation?” “What is the right thing to do?”

    We need to be like Esther in the Bible who was in a very difficult situation. She had a very prominent social platform. She had everything to lose, including her life, if things didn’t go well. But her uncle reminded her saying, “you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

  5. Be in the moment and act. I can’t afford to wait for my circumstances to be perfect. I will never have enough experience. I will never have the resources I need. I need to stop whining and just do it! Someone else is waiting for a hero. I may be the best opportunity they have. I may be their answer to prayer.

So, you may not be able to help everyone. But you can help someone. You have more power than you can imagine.

If you haven’t seen Freedom Writers, I encourage you to do so. It will inspire you about the impact one person can have on the world.

Question: How can you use what God has given you to help someone else? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    I’ve also struggled with the “giving money to the homeless” concept that you point out.  My tendency is to ask the man or woman what they need and then walk with them to provide it.  Most of the time it’s food, so we walk to the nearest place and get something to eat.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I struggle with it too Ben.

      However, if I have food to give or am able to take them to a local restaurant I will.

      Lately I’ve been challenged in this thinking. At Catalyst we were challenged to give without worrying about what the person will do, another youth leader mentioned he has started to give without worrying, and then this post. Seems like God is up to something.

      • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

        I would agree that God is up to something in shifting the thinking away from “Don’t give money to the homeless” thinking. 

        As a youth leader, I challenge the students to think through a response
        that they can own, not something I simply tell them to abide by.  If
        they don’t want to give money to a homeless person, then don’t carry
        cash.  That way they don’t have to lie about not having it in the

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Great point Ben. I know I’ve said the lie of “I don’t have anything to give” even though I did.

          I don’t know if you do any conference events for your students but we found a great way to get the students involved with the homeless.

          My wife makes most of the food for the trip and loves to make more than enough. Often, we will have leftover food that goes uneaten. After we have our lunch we will encourage and walk with the kids to find homeless people to give the food to. The look on their faces is priceless.

          • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

            Sweet idea, thanks for sharing!

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            Agree! This is why I enjoy the comments as much as the original post. Good ideas circulate.

      • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

        There are so many homeless in my town. It is crazy! I have personally talked with many of them, and a lot of them really are in need. There are always those who just bum off of everyone for their own advantage, but most of them are in great need.

        It is sad to hear their stories, but we can give them hope by sharing Jesus. Meeting their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs is the exact way that Jesus modeled.

    • http://www.suttonparks.com Sutton Parks

      I don’t mind a homeless person buying alcohol with their money. I figure it’s tough to sleep outside and getting drunk would help them sleep. But I do struggle with giving them money sometimes. If I decided to give them all the cash in my pocket, I would probably never carry cash.

      • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

        Good point about carrying cash, Sutton. 
        My struggle with saying, “Yea, go get drunk, it helps you sleep…” is that getting drunk also invites foul play.  If my chief concern was the sleep a homeless person was getting then I would carry some sleeping pills to distribute.

        • http://www.suttonparks.com Sutton Parks

          They can spend their money on food, sleeping pills or drugs. It’s their choice. The money is just a tool. If I give them money, sometimes I think I’m enabling them. When I ignore them, sometimes I feel guilty for not helping. I go back and fourth on this issue.

          • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

            As we wrestle with this issue, we’ve got to wrestle with God’s generosity as well–He who “makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on both the good and the evil…”

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        That’s what went through my head when I read that idea. Not going cashless but going with little cash on hand. Of course, I’m not one who carries much cash on me anyway. I’d have to be more intentional going out the door with money in my pocket if I was going to be generous to someone in need.

    • http://www.LeslieWilson.com Leslie Porter Wilson

      My daughter (age 17) co-leads an Uprising ministry at our church, LakePointe Church to feed Dallas-area homeless. Once a month 15-20 students purchase food (with money they’ve raised), make pb&js, and deliver the sandwiches, chips and bottled water to men and women on the streets. Yes, homeless need the food, but more importantly, they need a hug, a prayer, a kind word of encouragement. They need someone to listen to their story, and–sometimes–hear their words of warning. 

      Today’s youth are unafraid to minister to those in need. They haven’t developed that so-called healthy fear that paralyzes many of us. The same was true of Erin Gruwell of Freedom Writers.

      Another favorite teacher movie of mine is Stand and Deliver. Jaime Escalante leaves a high-paying computer programming job to teach Calculus to at-risk Los Angeles barrio students.

      • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

        This is so true. When I worked with the homeless, I kept thinking what they really need is a friend. Not someone to “fix” everything for them but just to listen and to care and to support them in finding solutions to their problems.

        • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon


    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      After reading that thought, I had one of my own. My natural, miserly self said, “I can do that. I just have to keep less cash on hand.” Sad but true!

  • Stephanie

    This one hits home! Thanks Michael.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      sure does!

  • Sherri

    I LOVE THIS POST! I especially love your reference to Esther (my blog is called Esther’s Destiny) because I truly believe that God has placed each of us where we are -the time of our existing on earth, where we live, where we work, who our family is – the way he does everything: WITH PURPOSE. He never calls us to do something that he has not ALREADY made a way for. Imagine the power and influence we could have as change agents if we all determined every day to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself! 

    There are no coincidences. If someone crosses my path today, there is a reason. How can I be the hands and feet of God in their lives right now, today?  Too often we live as though we are disconnected from the Source of our power. We live in defeat. Let’s stop that today and ask God to make us aware and willing as we live out his purpose for us today. 

    Great post and wonderful encouragement. Thank you. 

  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    Powerful post!

    Yes, we can do something with what God has deposited in us. Often its impact will be much more powerful than we think or imagine!

    Thanks Michael.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon


  • Mark Cole

    Hi Michael.. thanks for this excellent word and thanks for your faithfulness in posting an uplifting blog!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Mark.

  • Aearndt

    Wow, what a powerful post! After reading this, I have no excuses. That’s a good way to start the Christmas season and the New Year, isn’t it? Thanks for laying it on the line.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Thank you for sharing about Freedom Writers. It’s been on our “watch list” for awhile. We will have to go and rent it.

    I can use what God has given me to help others by taking action more often. I struggle with giving. Not for a lack of resources, but for the same reason as your friend. I question the motives of the asker. When I know I should act, I can start acting.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think you will find it inspiring.

      • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

        I have actually never heard of it until now…

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      I too have added “Freedom Writers” to the watch-list.  Thanks, Michael.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        As have I.  Looking forward to it.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I don’t know who “our” is on your list but I watched the movie tonight. The only caution I would add is that it does have some occasional rough language and a couple of scenes where a guy is gunned down. Other than that, I’d add my recommendation to Mike’s. The story inspires and challenges.

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        That would be my wife and I. Thank you for sharing about the rough language and scene of violence. It sounds like my wife and I would still be able to enjoy it.

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          I wouldn’t recommend it as a family-with-small-kids movie but otherwise I think you’ll enjoy it a lot. My wife picked it up at the office (she’s the children’s librarian at our local library) so all I needed to spend on the movie was time.

  • Anonymous

    i feel challenged on:

    – being faithful in the little everyday acts (particularly those with no obvious reward)
    – making sure i use my gifts
    – Reading the book of Ruth!


  • http://www.suttonparks.com Sutton Parks

    Ok, you took away my best excuses: lack of resources and not taking action. Too many times I ask myself, “Who am I? What can I do?”. The answer is to do what I can with what is in front of me. You also pointed out that it is hard work. Erin took extra jobs to help others. This is a great post for me to print and hang by my desk as a reminder.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I met Erin last spring at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast. She was truly an inspiration.

  • Vicki

    Reminds me of the last season of “Bramwell” on Masterpiece Theater, when Dr. Bramwell tries to rescue girls from the street. She encounters a man who runs an organization that specializes in addressing the problem and he tells her basically to leave that work to the charities that know what they’re doing. It’s not effective to just “Maud Gonne” every cause. That said, if someone is clearly starving in front of you, and genuinely needs immediate help, you must help. However, giving to a homeless shelter is probably more effective than trying to help each homeless individual you meet on the street.  In the words of Youtube and eHarmony video blogging sensation “Debbie”, you “can’t hug every cat.” :)

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    This is a powerful post, Michael. Many people I know complain about problems, but they want someone else to take care of them. They usually complain that the government isn’t doing enough. Seeing Erin Gruwell’s story paints a completely different picture. Each one of us has the power to effect change. 

    The first step can be as simple as going to your local McDonalds and buying some gift certificates. Just keep some in the glovebox of your car and keep one in your wallet or purse. The next time you encounter a homeless person, you can hand them one, knowing that it can’t be used directly for alcohol or drugs.

    For some people, the greatest thing they could do is start a blog, or write a book. For others it may be teaching a class or being a coach. There are so many opportunities to help. The rewards of this type of action are so much greater than money. They are deep, emotional, and heartfelt. Why not take the first step today…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like your suggestion about gift certificates. Excellent.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      That’s a good idea!

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Also, during the winter months, you can provide blankets and things to keep them warm…

      We have always done that in our town…

  • http://allthingsloss.com Kevin Mackesy

    When I first saw Freedom Writer’s in theatres I remember being affected for days.  I couldn’t shake the feeling of, “What am I doing that’s making a difference?”  Of course, after about a week that subsided and I found myself content, as C.S. Lewis would say, “playing with mud pies.”  Thanks for the shake-up.

  • RonB

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks for such a powerful message in this post.  The timing is perfect as well, and perhaps we can all use that which has blessed us during this season, and be a blessing to someone else.

    Your five ways of exercising the power that is ours, is a lesson that every Christian should read. There are also great applications to be made along this line in our workplace, school, and even in our civic organizations.

    Since we are recipients of the power, just think of the effect on our world when that power is exercised and shared with those we encounter.

    Again, thanks for the post.  You have encouraged us all to be excited about blessing others.


  • Cindy Finley

    Powerful post.  I’m guessing that Netflix will be having a surprising number of requests for Freedom Writers today.  Thank you, Michael!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I hope so. It is really worth seeing.

  • Bob >

    Great post Michael………. instead of cash , I have placed a gift card to either Subway or 
    Mac Donald’s and included a Christ centered track into my glove compartment. That way it is alway ready to give , with out a second thought. MERRY CHRISTMAS…..  BOB >

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Okay, now I have to make an extra trip to the library or local video outlet. :-D

    I recently wrote a post about the heavenly two-step (http://tnealtarver.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/expect-to-take-action-on-what-you-hear/)–hear, act. God’s desire is not simply that we know something but that we do something as well.

    You’ve offered a lot to consider here. I’ll check in later with some additional thoughts you stirred up.

  • http://www.thechoicedrivenlife.com Olga Hermans

    Just a few days ago I was listening to a group of women who were whining about the all the homeless people and to whom they should give and to whom they should not give; I just couldn’t say a word, I felt terrible. So, I stood up and walked away. You gave me clarity in this issue which I really, really like. Thank you so much!!

    • http://www.SpencerMcDonald.net Spencer McDonald

      I like the idea of not judging others. Who are we to judge anyone. I live in a glass house and if I throw rocks at others I would suspect they would shatter my own house. 

      • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

        Very true

  • Anonymous


    This is one of the most encouraging and inspirational essays I have read in a while.  Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts!  I am always drawn to a posture of reflection during this time of year.  These words provide much-needed fuel for this season in my life!

    God Bless

  • Rosemary Castellano

    Wow, this was incredible.   Sometimes God just speaks very clearly and this was the case for me.   Thank you for sharing this.

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

    Thank you for this post Michael.  I see many people in the streets of Toronto that are likely homeless, or definitely in need.

    I’m hesitant to share this, because I don’t want any emphasis/praise given to me about what I’ve been doing lately.  All praise should be given to God, for pouring out His Spirit, to prompt me to do the following:

    I’ve been taking Seminary classes on Wednesday nights, and I’ve been ordering two meals for dinner, which is more than I normally eat.  I have been giving one of the meals to a homeless person that is sitting outside one of the Subway stops.  

    Each of those individuals were very gracious receivers of the gift.  I wasn’t expecting their gracious receipt, but their kind words of appreciation is the best gift one could receive.

    None of us are sinless, and none of us should judge others and their life choices/circumstances.  Many of our brothers and sisters are in difficult situations, so we need to be thankful for the abundant blessings we each have.

    All of us should help each other, in whatever ways we can.

    Merry Christmas, and have a blessed 2012!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks you for your example, Mike. It is inspiring!

    • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

      Don’t hesitate to
      share what you do. I understand you don’t want to brag and you value humility.
      At the same time,  sharing in a truthful
      way what you do motivates others. When people see what you have done it inspires
      them to do the same.  When people know of your good deeds, it brings
      glory to our Father.


      “In the same
      way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and
      praise your Father in heaven.” 
      Matthew 5:16 (NIV 1984)


      I think what you do
      on a regular basis is an awesome idea and I hope it will stimulate others to
      think how they can do something like that on a consistent basis. Keep up the
      good work!


      Sharon Rose Gibson

      • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

        Thanks Michael and Sharon for your warm comments!

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    Resources are always lacking in the Music department of my Church. But I do have ability and I can take people on the journey with me if I decide to step up and lead it. Perhaps all people need is someone audacious enough to make a stand.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Have you checked out http://www.davidsantistevan.com? He has a great site for worship leaders and musicians in the church…

      • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

        Checking it out now

        • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

          He has a great site!

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Perfect content for what you just mentioned…

  • Lesa

    I love your posts and often they are so timely in regards to what is happening in my life. Today was one of those days. I get all of what you said and do live the same way most of the time. I don’t have a issue with giving where there is a need even when I don’t understand. What always seem to dictate what I do is resources! I hate it! I have recently jumped off a big cliff to provide a marketplace resource center for people that may not walk into a typical church building. We have grown and needed bigger space and so with prayerful consideration decided to move into a larger space but now here I am with decisions that need to be made and not enough money to do what needs to be done. I know that God is faithful, I am not afraid of work and work very hard so I know that the deficit is not for lack of God’s willingness or a lack of effort on my part. I want a breakthrough! Your post says “Resources are never—and I mean never—the problem” I want to believe this, so Help!

  • http://www.chaplainmike.com Mike Hansen

    I am in the midst of trying to get off the ground at work people to help with the elementary school across the street to feed kids who are going home hungry. Right now, this is my pursuit and this post has put more urgency to the need we have the power to change right in our neighborhood. Our county, by the way, is the highest per capita income county in Colorado-many have been surprised to hear we have this kind of problem in our back yard. 

    One movie that shaped me when I was young was, “The Power of One” about apartheid in South Africa with Morgan Freeman.

  • http://www.chaplainmike.com Mike Hansen

    Correction: Douglas County, Colorado is the third highest in the state.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      There was also an article this morning about poverty in America…mentioned that 1 in 2 families is living in “poverty” in America today…

      • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

        Grammar correction… “are living”.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Michael, your point about the power we have over people is so true. Thank you many times over for making it.
    This is the parenting rule – no matter if your kids disagree with you, they still look up to you all the time for cues, actions, values. Hence, it’s not what you tell them, it’s what they see you doing. 
    The Erin Gruwell story is such a good example. She lead by listening, by example and not submitting to the notion that the students were a ‘problem’. By example (and leadership), she showed that people have skills, capabilities and resources to step outside their norm and get unstuck from their self-imposed limitations, in particular their differences. She stopped using the school’s prescriptive solutions that made no sense to the students and got them to come up with their own solutions by having them figure out what they wanted in common. She lead by letting them re-frame what they already had and discover what’s possible.The big question in my mind is, how do we make this a more common approach and on a sustainable basis.
    I agree that we have to do it one person and one situation at a time. How do we scale it up to the larger community and societal level? Just imagine if our political leaders thought this way!! Though we live in a competitive world (the students were competing for power), we can re-frame how we use our power to help people make progress.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Wow! Your picture looks just like the Steve Jobs cover. I though it was at first…

      That is meant to be a compliment… :)

      • Alan Kay

        Giving and taking compliments is a a good thing. Thx.

        • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

          Very true!

  • David

    Thanks Michael, I needed this. In sales we complain (ME complain) about ‘analysis-paralysis’ and indecision — then fall into the SAME THING. Much more could be said…

  • Shirley Sutton

    I lile this very much. I do a lot of volunteer driving and I pray God will use me in some way tobe a hero to someonetoday.  Shirley

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I use my writing or teaching to help others. It is a way for me to reflect on my own life and to see what God has done and continues to do so that I can help the next generation.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      I’m checking your site out now…

  • http://www.facebook.com/carina.brunson Carina A. Wyant Brunson

    This came to me at the right moment. Thanks for sharing. We often think we are too small to do something or that we don’t have the time, energy or the resources to do anything, but there are ways we can change someones lives even in the simplest action, we just have to make ourselves aware of it. I like the example used about Esther…. we are all where we need to be at a certain time… there is always a reason, we just have to act on it… and that happy moment in someone else’s life, could start with us, that bit of change, could start with us, we just have to choose what is right to do and act on it. I am going to keep these words with me throughout this holiday season and hopefully through the new year and beyond. I think it will not only be possible for me to make others happy, but it will make me a better person and happier as well.

    As I keep questioning whether I should go to a prospective church Family’s house to visit them, I can be sure that the right thing to do, is to step out and visit with them, to take my young women and sing Christmas Carols at their house. I know it is a small act, but it is that small act that could open a door for them and make them feel more welcome in our church.

  • http://charlielyons.ca Charlie Lyons

    Wow… powerful stuff. Maybe I’ll add this movie to my list of “must sees” over the holidays coming up. Thanks, Michael. Blessings!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ayomide.akinkugbe Ayomide Akinkugbe

    Great Post! I loved the part about giving money away to the homeless, it was like you got into my head you know. Thanks Michael :)

  • http://www.AuthorCynthiaHerron.com Cynthia Herron

    What a powerful post! I especially liked #2–don’t overthink it. When the Holy Spirit impresses us to act, who are we to determine how the recepient might use/misuse our gift? If we’re obedient to His will then we have to trust that our ministry to others won’t return void.

    • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

      Great words of wisdom!

  • Kristina

    Thank you so much for this shot of encouragement.  Points 3 and 5 really resonated with me.  We just can’t wait for all the planets to align in order to take action.  As Albert Einstein said “Nothing happens until something moves.”  I have been stagnate for some time now, it’s time to move.  Thank you Michael.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ctpotts Chris Potts

    Awesome post, great words!

  • http://www.intunestudios.com Dave Mariano

    Very well said. I would also say persist, stay confident/humble when the naysayers rear their ugly heads. Similar to “stop over-thinking,” don’t second guess and let any opposition sway you from doing good.

    I wrote a similar post for my church’s blog last month. I talk more about influence on a larger scale (vs. the every day hero theme), but made some similar points. Feel free to check it out: http://ow.ly/7Zd9q

  • Dorothy Love

    Mike, I’m a Thomas Nelson fiction author who regularly reads your posts. I always take away something useful. This post touched my heart because of my recent experiences serving meals at our local homeless shelter. Yes, a hot meal is necessary to sustain life, but what I see in so many of those weary faces is the need to be recognized and valued as members of the human family. Though the serving line moves really quickly ( 400 meals per hour) I try to look them in the eye, smile, and ask how they are. They seem to be more eager to receive this simple recognition than the plate of chicken and vegetables in front of them. It has been a humbling experience that has blessed me far more than I have blessed them. Thanks for your posts. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Dorothy. I agree you. So often, people are starving to be noticed.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I definitely agree with your points, especially the last one.  One of my life goals is to live in the present fully.  When I’m with my kids, for example, I put away my phone.  If I’m on a date with my wife, I don’t bring my Kindle.  Living in the moment is an excellent reminder to do this, not just with my family, but with every aspect of my life.  Thanks!

  • Cecily

    We can help by using the gifts God has given us.  Doing something that we enjoy to help others makes helping enjoyable.  For example, I am passionate about web site design so I decided to head up the project of web site design for my church, I also mentor a girl in my office as she is learning new web site design skills, and I would like to research and develop ways to use technology to evangelize.  Many people are more comfortable receiving and communicating using technology.  We can use that resource in making disciples for Jesus Christ. 

    We can also help by showing respect to every human being, everyone is fighting their own battles and a little kindness and time can go a long way, making a difference in ways we will never know.  We all can do that regardless of the gifts we have been blessed with.

  • Rellic13

    Why does doing the right thing to change the world have to be presented as what God wants us to do.  My mission to change the world for the better is driven by my own concept of right and wrong. Go d has l=nothing to do with it. Newrt Genrich says he is guided by God and he is not making the owrld a better place.

    • http://frugalportland.com kathleen

      if these kinds of responses are representative of Christians as a whole, then who are we to say that they’re doing it wrong?

  • Gina Holmes

    Love this post! This is exactly the message we’re trying to promote on http://www.inspireafire.com Great tithing of your words today, Mike!

  • Anonymous

    Wow. What a beautiful, profound essay.

    Yes, I’ve experienced every single barrier Michael describes. Yes, I often think of myself as powerless. And yes, I read about people who take a simple action to change the world and wonder, “why not me?”

    Dr. Wayne Dyer has a wonderful quote — ‘You are what God is doing.” We are his eyes, his hands, his intention. It’s up to us. We can create heaven on earth by using our gifts to help others, or we can live in a hell created by marinating in our own limitations.

    Thanks for this reminder.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the quote from Dyer. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic post! I was recently in Washington DC where my eyes were opened to more homelessness than I see regularly. It was tough, and I always play the mind games too. I randomly emptied the change from my pocket on the last day of our trip. It felt good, but then 10 feet later there was another that I had to walk past. Thanks for the inspiration though. You got my noggin fishing for a solution….

    • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

      Listen to my interview about Hope for the Homeless  this week on http://www.hope101.net.  Let me know your thoughts. Email hope101net@live.com  Great insight about the homeless!

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2011/11/29/how-small-business-can-leverage-social-media-to-fight-back-against-their-big-business-competitors/ Ryan Hanley

    The World needs more people who are willing to ACT… 

    Someday, Tomorrow, If Only… These statements Kill the Soul.

    Great post Michael.

  • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

    #5 is the one that I need to work on the most. I need to stop waiting till all the stars line up just right in order to accomplish both big and little goals! As a matter of fact I think #5 also applies to the first 4.  Thanks, Michael!

  • Anonymous

    Great post, Michael.

    It reminded me of my parents speaking out in favor of school integration, when I was in 2nd grade. 

    We caught a lot of flac from the community, over my parent’s outspoken stance.  Kids at school would tell me that their parents told them not to play with me because my family were communists and n____r-lovers.  We even received some anonymous threats.

    I remember being very proud of my parents, at the time, for standing up for what they believed.

    Later, as I grew up in the integrated schools, as I experienced the bitterness and hatred on both sides of the racial lines, by high school I had begun to wonder whether it had really made a difference at all.  All the heart-break, all the strife, and did it really matter in the end?  Had we really brought people closer together in community, or had we just changed their geography?

    Now, looking back, I can see how far we’ve come.  We still have a long ways to go, but we have come so far from where we were in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

    I think about the stand my parents took, and the difference it made in that community, over the years and across the generations…and I realize…Yes, one person taking a stand can make a big difference…even when it may not seem like it at the moment…

  • http://www.sarahstirman.com/ Sarah S.

    LOVE that movie, too — and these points! Watching the movie, I found myself thinking, “Yeah, but I can’t because…” (and I will say — I’m not willing to sacrifice my marriage for something, but I would hope my awesome husband would get on board). But she is/ was very inspiring, and I appreciate the points you have summed up here.

  • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

    I thought of another story from doing other work with the homeless. One time, I remember talking to Fred, a homeless man on the streets, he said, “Even if people don’t give me money, I wish they would at least smile or say hello. They turn their heads away and keep walking.” Can you imagine what additional pain that would be?  

    I can’t give to everyone but I can at least smile and say hello. I read a story one time about a homeless man who said that for 2 years, a business man on his way to work would always smile at him. He said after awhile, this simple courtesy gave him to courage to realize he was worth something. He got a job and later returned to thank the man who smiled at him. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference.Sharon Rose Gibsonwww.15minutewriter.com

  • Anonymous

    Michael, I feel deeply inspired by your newsletters. Thank you for your amazing insights and unique newsletter.

    A teacher named Lynn Muendel once shared with me, “The greatest gift you can give one another is the power of your attention.” I have carried this into my interactions with others. I feel blessed by the gift of love and when I am in this state it is the greatest gift I can share with another. When a person begins here, then when we encounter a homeless person or a friend or the cashier at the grocery store, we know how to participate. All insight is given for the next best action.

  • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

    I’m really glad you wrote this. We definitely need to reach out rather than ignore the needs of the poor.  I’ve adopted seven teens from poverty and on one of my trips when I wondered what on earth I’d gotten myself into, the quote came to mind, “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” Also, I heard the Lord say, “All I am looking for is someone to take a stand for these kids.”
    I’ve also done other work with the homeless. One time, I remember talking to Fred, a homeless man on the streets, he said, “Even if people don’t give me money, I wish they would at least smile or say hello. They turn their heads away and keep walking.” Can you imagine what additional pain that would be?  I can’t give to everyone but I can at least smile and say hello. I read a story one time about a homeless man who said that for 2 years, a business man on his way to work would always smile at him. He said after awhile, this simple courtesy gave him to courage to realize he was worth something. He got a job and later returned to thank the man who smiled at him.Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference.

    • http://www.SpencerMcDonald.net Spencer McDonald

      I really love your idea of a simple smile. When I was reading your comment I thought, “people turn away because they don’t want the guilt of not giving.” I am guilty of being this person in the past.  Thank you for inspiring me to smile at a bare minimum.

  • Darrell

    I have learned in my life journey that giving money simply doesn’t help in the big picture. THe trickle down system of the donation process is horrible. Same goes for giving money to the homeless. I’d much rather give shoes, clothing or food rather than money. And if you are looking for another  good “Super Hero” movie, try ” The Blind Side” with Sandra Bullock. Now that is giving back

  • Willowrose

    If I gave homeless people, or panhandlers, all the money I had in my pocket, I’d eventually, and sooner than later, BE one of those homeless people!! I have to scrape up money just to buy my pets their food. If I gave the money to the first “person in need” that I saw then I’d have to turn around and take my pets to the nearest animal shelter and drop them off where they could potentially be put down because people can’t afford to feed their pets these days!

  • http://www.kare360.com Thad P

    Thanks so much for such a powerful post.  Sometimes I forget the power of not knowing what you aren’t supposed to be able to do. 

  • Elizabeth Ewing

    What a powerful post! I hope people really take in the words and apply them to their lives. We can do so much. This story showed up on my twitter feed earlier today and I feel like this 8-year old has really gone above and beyond most. She found a way to challenge herself and help a charity that move her. It’s short, but oh so sweet! http://www.forgottenvoices.org/blog/2011/12/14/love-jesus-love-others/

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    God has given my wife and I a gift and passion to work with kids. He made me a natural analyzer, and a not-so-natural writer.

    Therefore, we’ve enjoyed moving to the poorest area in our state, especially to work with at-risk kids and their families. I work here, plus have some flexibility to make connections as I see opportunities arise. I keep friends, family, and others informed of our experiences through my blog, called Mission: Allendale.


  • Linda O’Donnell

    Linda O’Donnell, you have nudged me back on the right path.  I have a heart for service but found many excuses to only act when it was convenient.  No more.  Thank you!!

  • http://www.SpencerMcDonald.net Spencer McDonald

    It’s like our minds are melding. Over at my blog I just touched on a similar subject. My subject is centered around intentional leadership. 

    Today a leader suggested to me that it’s all right to only accomplish 20% of what you set out to accomplish. I was so confused. Really… you said you would do X and you only delivered a x and it was good enough. Good enough is not good enough. We need to start thinking bigger, on purpose, with conviction, and intention to honor what we set out to accomplish. 

    I agree we are powerful beyond measure if we only apply ourselves. The question is… did we? Can we hold up a mirror and look into our own eyes and tell the truth? 

    Go be that person who leads intentionally and agrees to honor  your commitment to doing what you said you would do or helping those you know you should.

  • http://pollyannaonpurpose.blogspot.com/ Jen Moore

    “Be in the moment and act.” 
    Powerful advice, especially when coupled with, “don’t over-think it.” You’re right, we none of us will never have enough experience. When I  look at my  little sphere of influence through my own lenses, I *know* I’m not smart enough, skilled enough, _____ enough to be able to accomplish much. Yet I know that through God’s lenses the picture looks entirely different. That’s my motivation to quit second-guessing myself so much and go *do* more.  

    Thanks for the post, and the associated prod. 

  • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com Tessa

    I’m glad you gave the giving money to the homeless example. That is usually my thought process, too. I’ve heard of ways to combat this, such as keeping gift cards on hand or having premade gift baskets for them.

    One way I personally try to do something to help is get involved through my church. We participate in something called “Full Tummy Project,” which prepares bags of food for children to take home from school on the weekends. This project is close to my heart because I am a teacher, and I hate to see kids hungry.

  • http://wechoose.co Les Dossey


    I love the way you ask thought provoking questions at the end of every article. It stimulates the thinking muscle in wonderful ways.

    I am gaining mastery of the model Christ used with everyone he encountered. 

    He chose to love and forgive people in advance of meeting them. This conscious and disciplined choice, empowered him to respond in love, no matter how people behaved when he met them.

    He demonstrated with his words how to respond when he encountered the world. Peace be still, move mountain, get behind me, be quiet, as well as be healed, your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more.

    He also demonstrated with his actions how to prepare and stay prepared to respond when encountering the world. He got away and spent time with THE SOURCE. He saw what he was doing and he heard what he was saying, so that he would know how to respond to the world he would encounter on his journey through life.

    And….He demonstrated and admonished everyone around him to stay awake and to pay attention. To be vigilant, be alert, because the world is looking for an opportunity to give you a sucker punch.

    P.S. I figure the best way for me to change the world is for me to do like Michaels song – work on the man in the mirror. :)

    Only the Best,

    Les Dossey
    Mentor | Coach | Speaker

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      There is a tremendous power in questions, isn’t there? Thanks.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    “Stop complaining about your lack of resources.” My wife Ellen’s always been a generous person. She has the same resources I have (as far as the bank account goes) yet always seems to have more than enough to share with others. I’ve learned from her that generosity isn’t based on a bank statement but rather on an attitude and condition of the soul. My soul shrivels when I’m a miser. It soars when I follow her generous example. Bullet-point #3 is so on target.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      For many years, I felt “too poor” to tip. Sure, I’d lived on the generous tips of spa patrons when I was a starving college student. But with two small children, our income never seemed to cover our expenses.

      One day, shortly after cutting back to half-time work, I decided to leave my hair stylist a solid tip instead of making my planned stop at Starbucks. Not only did this  become a habit, but it turned out to be the best budgeting “strategy” possible for me. The more I tipped, the more abundance (and the less need) I felt. I shared more — and felt more satisfied — on 1.5 incomes than I ever had with 2 full incomes.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal


        That’s a great example of how God blesses our hearts in ways our pocketbooks can never fully fathom. Such a practical example and easy to do (not an easy choice though–less difficult here in small town America with no Starbucks to tempt).

        By the way, I’ve enjoyed your gifts to the four personality types series. I read about gifts to the melancholy today. My wife Ellen fits into that category and your list helps me understand her better (after almost 30 years together, I still have a lot to learn).

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        Great, practical example. You offer an easy-to-understand alternative (although giving up Starbucks is a real sacrifice) to pinching pennies and being a tightwad. Thanks, Cheri, for sharing.

        By the way, I read your gift series today. I went back to an earlier post on gifts to the Melancholy. You helped me understand my wife Ellen better (and after almost 30 years, I still have a lot to learn).

  • Susan

    The problem that I have with you holding up Erin Gruwell as an example to us is that, at least according to the movie, Erin did what she did to the neglect of her husband. She had no time for him because of all she did for the kids and he finally divorced her. 

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    This year I’m coaching an inter-city basketball team in our church league (their 9th thru 12th grade). This past Sunday one of the players revealed (not on purpose) that he couldn’t read. I had been thinking about what to do, now you’ve given me the motivation, I’m going to help him learn how to read (or die trying)! Thanks Michael

  • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

    I will be looking for the Freedom Writers movie.  Thanks for the inspiration.

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    I had the privilege of spending time with an original Freedom Writer (Marcus in the movie)  Manual Scott was labeled “unreachable and unteachable.” Today he has a PHD and changing lives with a message of hope! Great movie!

    I have worked with A Book by Me which is a Holocaust writing project connecting students with Holocaust survivors, WWII veterans and Righteous Gentiles. The students interview these heroes then write and illustrate their eye witness accounts in a ten page story book introducing the Holocaust to elementary students. We have five books published and 70 waiting to be published as funds come in. We are just launching Operation WRITE NOW because of the short window of time we have to capture these stories first hand. This project has the attention of U.S. Holocaust Museum/ Yad Vashem in Israel/ State Senators / educators around the world. Sidebar:  we are working with Eva Schloss – after concentration camp her mother married Otto Frank. Anne and Eva were friends and at the camp together. But as you know Anne did not make it out.

    These books are impacting the students and survivors in amazing ways! http://www.abookbyme.com

    In regards to the homeless…this week on my radio show http://www.hope101.net , I interview a man who has worked with the homeless and he shares great insight on who, what, and why. My conversation with him was eye opening for me and I encourage anyone to check it out. My son directs the ministry and also runs a transitional home for men coming out of prison. He is impacting the Quad City IL/IA area with over 250 volunteers reaching thousands of homeless families, teens and opening up housing as funds come in.

    Sorry this is so long but God has been taking me out of my comfort zone with these outreaches and it’s been a blessing to be a blessing.

  • Nicholasphitchins

    “Power is simply the courage to confront evil, take a stand for what is right, and then act to make things different.”


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  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    I have used this movie in my curriculum for junior English along with the short story “Teenage Wasteland” by Anne Tyler. My focus in my lessons, of course, was on the students that Ms. Gruwell taught and on the message that education can change lives. However, I found that I was greatly influenced by Ms. Gruwell’s ability to connect with her students by honing in on their needs.
    All of us, whether we’re rich or poor in financial means, need positive input into our lives, so I have determined to be a blessing to every person I come in contact with. Sometimes that involves money, but it almost always involves pleasant words and smiles. 

  • http://CaptivatingCappadocia.com Duke Dillard

    Dear Michael, 
    this is a good word that we all need to hear. You have about a million positive comments so I am weary to write this but here goes anyway.

    1. You really should follow up this post in a few weeks or months to say how you have actually changed. I do not get the notion from your post that you are actually acting differently but rather that you want to. I would love to see what impact these thoughts have on you after a time. Otherwise, they are just good words, good intentions. I think your ideas would carry more weight if you could show how they actually worked on you. I assume you live in a rich neighborhood and go to a church full of people in the same class as you and spend your time either writing from home or going on trips to places like Catalyst where you speak to mostly white people from middle to upper middle class backgrounds. It would be  truly inspiring to hear how you actually do break out of that and connect with needy people and make a difference (more than just passing them on the way to somewhere else). I am guessing most of your readers are white middle to upper middle class and it would be good for us to see an example of someone breaking out and doing it. (Note: e-mail/comment is a difficult medium for writing like this. I do not mean to be sarcastic, cynical, or rude. I read every post you write and have benefitted greatly from your blog. I designed the layout of my blog based on yours as I think it is one of the best out there. I am just saying that I see lots of posts/columns/sermons like this that give advice that the speaker/writer does not seem to have used yet. It has its place but is not so powerful. Now you may be doing all of this but are just being modest. If that is the case, I’m happy to say I’m wrong.)

    2. You are a bastion for the primacy of marriage and family. I really appreciate that, and I have greatly appreciated your encouragement to speak positively about spouses. I live in a village in Turkey and my positive words about my wife blow people away as it is just not done here. In the context of this post, it would have been good for you to at least mention the downside of Erin’s choices. I do not know her real life but in the movie she ends up getting a divorce.  If I see tremendous change in this area of Turkey but lose my wife and kids in the process, I would not want to be considered a success. I understand that divorce happens, and I’m not judging here. I’m just saying that I would have appreciated you giving a word for the need to make a difference without losing what is most important. We see everyday when people like Steve Nash, Lance Armstrong, and on and on reach a pinnacle at the apparent expense of their closest relationships. You could say it so well, I am sure, which is why I mention it here. 
    thank you,

  • Tbaxter

    A friend of mine never carries cash (using a credit card helps track expenses, and it keeps them safe in the event of theft). But they DO carry five one-dollar bills, to be given out one at a time when anyone asks for money, for any reason. I like the balance between prudence and generosity in this method.

  • http://www.bigb94.wordpress.com Brandon

    Great post!

  • Rob Sorbo

    That movie looks amazing, I don’t know how I missed it.

    I have thought about this problem solving process before, and what I have concluded is that we don’t solve problems because we approach step #1 with a “deal with it” attitude instead of a “how can I fix this” attitude. I often try to ask myself if I’m dealing with any problems that can be fixed.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Watched the video and enjoyed it. I would have never considered watching the movie without someone recommending it. Thanks for getting it on my radar.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I’m adding this comment simply to note a couple of cautions I would add. The movie has some rough/graphic language and at least two scenes where guys are shot. Some scenes have high tension in them–anytime someone’s fingering a gun in his pocket, it raises the stress level.

      Otherwise, the movie challenges and inspires.

  • http://candelierious.blogspot.com Lis

    I love this movie.  Cry every time.

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  • http://BrandonCordoba.com Brandon Cordoba

    Thank you Michael so great I saw Erin speak @ leadercast so inspiring!

  • Rsr777

    Loved this inspiring post…was challenged to do more…”to whom much is given…much is required”….which means I am only scratching the surface…to what I could be doing.  It’s time to “step it up”!

  • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

    I will definitely have to see that video!
    I find myself in a situation that I don’t know what to do. The only thing I can do is keep  my mouth shut, pray for wisdom, and then open my mouth with the right words when God lets me know it’s time. 
    Thank you for the encouragement. 

  • John Brown

    I am thankful for your thoughts and trying to moving us out of our comfort zone.  For some this is a para-dime shift, and for others a benchmark to start from.  Whether it’s helping a homeless person, or sponsoring a child, or volunteering a food pantry there are so many ways to give of yourself.  I work at a bank and went to Africa for a trip during the summer that will forever change the way I look at the world we live. All I have to say is people that had, in my mind very little, gave so freely and with joy.  I was able to experience a people willing to embrace a stranger, something that we as American’s have a very hard time doing.  This trip changed my life to the point that I couldn’t live my life the same way.  In fact I have felt God call me to a different way of life, and will be moving to Africa as soon as I can get the funding.  You see God has called me to change, not only my way of life, but my family’s.  To do the unthinkable, give to those in need.  I was the guy that said get a job, and not give to someone in need.  I have said don’t go out of the country to help them, lets fix America first, then worry about those in need.  The Lord has definitely done a great work in me.  He can do the same for you if you let Him.

  • Cheryl Settle

    Michael, I believe this is a great blog on helping others.  I’ve noticed people are confused on this and you brought up some great scriptures, that will take the confusion away.  I hope to see churches preaching on this more.  And, I love the book of Acts, where it clearly talks about being filled with the Spirit, who will lead us to give and make sure our fellow believers have what they need.  Thank you for sharing this!
    Blessings, Cheryl

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    Hi Michael, I’m just catching up on my reading. Thanks for recommending Freedom Writers. Because of your recommendation I watched it tonight with my wife. Powerful movie. If we but choose to do the right thing in every situation, we may not become popular, but we will matter. Blessings this divine holiday season of the Christ child. -Tony.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    – Use our special talents and gifts for the greater common good.
    — Can remain a cheer leader to someone at any point in our life.
    — Can make things happen when others prefer to wait and watch.

  • Kathy_ficek

    I very seldom have to  look for people in need. When I see them on the street or when they visit our church I always wonder where are their families. I then am reminded of the many blessings that God has given me. Family, food, a warm bed and so much more. When I give my day to the Lord he always puts people in my path so I can put action to my faith. Giving of myself, goods, food, or money humbles me.
    Thanks for sharing all the comments. It gives me answers to many who ask the question “DO I or Don’t I” it’s up to each individual.


  • http://www.facebook.com/samammari Hussam Ammari

    depending on the circumstances..Give what you can!! If  the circumstances say you need it for bus fair or gas to make living at a job or what you can. Say sorry with a touch of empathy..or do something no one would do after you notice they don’t have enough money to pay for a few things or a bunch at the store and insist to pay. Try to remember this, if  ONE vote can kill 6 Million Jews.. Than ONE voice, ONE Man, ONE Woman or ONE  Team even ONE child together can change the world in so many ways. Never underestimate the power of one..It can move mountains.

    NSA 5552

  • http://www.facebook.com/samammari Hussam Ammari

    The best way I use to apply the above..Do what you can,where your at, with what you got..(Uknown)

  • Mohit Sawhney

    I can do more than I’m doing now. Article has inspired me. I have had questions like you mentioned in the article. I hesitate giving money to homeless while I don’t mind spending lavishly where I don’t need to. That’s not fair. I can do more than I’m doing now. Thanks!

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  • Robin

    Good post indeed! Only one thing that i dont really think fit in though, religion.. i think anyone should base their acts on common sence, and what is best for every part. There is also one thing i would have added: keep in mind not all cases are wort dying for, but worth fighting for :) -green day