Time’s Person of the Year 2013

atkins-bookshelf-cultureEach year, the editors of Time magazine honor a person (or rarely, a group, idea or object) that “for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the [past] year.” In 2012, Barack Obama, who was reelected for a second term, was named Person of the Year. For 2013, the editors named Pope Francis (formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio), a Jesuit from Argentina, as Person of the Year for “pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church [1.2 billion Catholics] to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy,” wrote managing  editor Nancy Gibbs. Bobby Ghosh, the magazine’s international editor added, “He’s changed perceptions of the church from being this out-of-touch institution to one that is humble and merciful. He’s changed the focus of the church from being focused on doctrine to becoming more about service. And he’s changed the tone in which the church speaks to one of compassion… [Pope Francis is] talking about homosexuality, about giving women a bigger say in the church… They’re not just words. He’s actually following them up with action.” The Pope, of course, accepted the honor with characteristic humility; speaking for the Pope, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said, “The Pope does not look for honors, but he is happy if his message… of the love of good — is received and understood. And then, in this sense, he can be happy of this declaration.”

The selection of the Person of the Year always invites the question: who were the leading candidates for the 2013 Person of the Year? Below is the list of individuals in order of consideration by the august group of editors (clearly, readers will have to forgive them for the inclusion of one obvious lightweight):
2. Edward Snowden: leaked that the NSA was illegally collecting personal data (from phone records, Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.)
3. Edith Windsor: gay rights activist whose lawsuit resulted in a landmark case, U.S. vs Windsor, that provides key rights to same-sex couples
4. Bashar al-Assad: President of Syria, who ordered military sieges and suppression of pro-reform protestors in Syria’s civil war
5. Ted Cruz: Republican Senator of Texas who shut down government chiefly over Obamacare
6. Jeff Bezos: Founder and CEO of Amazon who has revolutionized retail (and put most retail establishments — small and large — out of business)
7. Miley Cyrus: For twerking on prime time and being a general annoyance to the public
8. Barack Obama: President of the U.S. and architect of beleaguered Obamacare (Affordable Care Act)
9. Hassan Rouhani: President of Iran, a political moderate, striving to improve Iran’s economy and its relations with the Western countries
10. Kathleen Sebelius: Secretary of Health and Human Services and staunch supporter of Obamacare

Read related post: Traits of Great Leaders

For further reading: Time magazine, December 23, 2013 issue

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