"Vision," according to English writer Jonathan Swift, "is the art of seeing things invisible." This gift belongs to those who can see the good hidden away in the kernels of setbacks, suffering, and pain. It resides in those who never give up hope when less stalwart souls are ready to pack up their bags and go home. It stirs in the love of those who refuse to capitulate to cynicism on either a private or a public level. Russian novelist Boris Pasternak understands what vision entails: " It is not the earthquake that controls the advent of a different life but storms of generosity and visions of incandescent souls."

In the second half of the twentieth century, Satish Kumar launched Resurgence magazine "to give voice to these visionaries, and remind people that small inner voices have more power than might first appear. Resurgence presented a vision of society articulated by these great thinkers and activists who believed that all wars on humans and nature are ultimately futile. Resurgence advocated that another world — a world of mutuality and solidarity — is possible; and that a world of sustainability, spirituality, and frugality is more joyful than the world of consumerism, materialism, and militarism."

Editors Satish Kumar and Freddie Whitefield have selected 100 visionaries as the 20th Century's Most Important Inspirational Leaders. These individuals "made the greatest impact in creating and projecting a holistic worldview, where creativity, imagination, and human well-being should be the basis of social, political and economic activities." They are divided into three categories: ecological, social, and spiritual visionaries. Here are quotations from some of the visionaries profiled by different writers in this excellent paperback:

• James Lovelock, Gaian scientist: "Evolution is a tightly coupled dance, with life and the material environment as partners."

• Terry Tempest Williams, Intimacy with the Land: "To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from."

• Scott and Helen Nearing, Earth Heroes: "Do the best that you can in the place where you are, and be kind."

• Jane Goodall, Champion of Nature: "The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves."

• Wangari Maathai, Mother of the Trees: "The earth was naked. For me the mission was to try to cover it up with green."

• Mahatma Gandhi, Servant of the People: "There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever."

• E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction."

• Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: "The oneness of human beings is the basic ethical thread that holds us together."

• Arundhati Roy, Conscience Keeper: "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."

• Desmond Tutu, Limitless Love: "I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights."