The tradition of Time Magazine selecting a “Man of the Year” began in 1927 with Charles Lindbergh. They said it was to honor the most “influential” person (yeah, only men then), but got creative with the computer (“Machine of the Year”) in 1982 and “Endangered Earth” (“Planet of the Year”) in 1988. How come no “Storm of the Year,” such as Katrina?
Back to Humans in Recent Years
In 2012 it was Barack Obama – for the second time. Really? In 2011 it was the generic “Protester,” although symbolized by a Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself on fire. Before that was Mark Zuckerberg, and the year before that was Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, who single-handedly “prevented an economic catastrophe,” according to Time‘s story. Wow, the Superman of Sawbucks.
And the 2013 Nominees Were …
So who were last year’s nominees? When Miley Cyrus is nominated for “Person of the Year,” you know it’s been a bad year. Other than the fact she often performs in one-piece bathing suits, she had-um-less going for her than the other bad candidates. Ted Cruz helped lead us to a partial government shutdown. Kathleen Sebelius is the poster girl for ObamaCarelessness — so where does that leave Obama? Third time has no charm, in this case.
Now, you might think Edward Snowden, Bashar Assad and Hassan Rouhani were essentially negative candidates to make the others look good. But you would forget that Time chose such sterling characters as Adolf Hitler (1938), Joseph Stalin (1939 and 1942), Nikita Khrushchev (1957) and the Ayatollah Khomeini (1979) for their, um, impacts on the world. As for Jeff Bezos, did we really need another Mark Zuckerberg? So, with all due respect to Edith Windsor, that only left Pope Francis, who is probably doing more good for the gay cause, anyhow.
Why I Also Would Have Voted for Francis
As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Francis was known to sit on the streets and break bread with the homeless. He has always espoused dialogue as a way to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and faiths. Since he became pope, Francis has stuck to his ideals, urging Catholics to gain more tolerance regarding contraception, abortion, and homosexuals. I actually believe his words regarding the greater need for tenderness, mercy and compassion. Not only does he include the poor, but Francis has tried to improve relations with the Islamic world.
As pope, Francis has shunned many of the ostentatious trappings of Rome, living in the Papal guesthouse and eschewing the elaborate robes, rings and riches of Peter’s Palace. Ironically, he has been attacked by such militant Catholics as Adam Shaw. Admittedly, Francis seems to be pretty ignorant of economics if he thinks that socialism is good and capitalism bad, but I think his heart is truly where his mouth is. Pope Francis is leading by example. Even as an atheist who lives near liberal San Francisco, I would vote for Francis as Person of the Year.
Do We Really Need this “Honor”?
Honestly, it’s no big deal to most of us, but it’s a great gimmick for the magazine. However, for 2014, if Time really wants something influencing the world to tout, how about the ongoing human resistance to green technology? It’s clearly, um, time to revisit the Endangered Earth.