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May 2, 2013
Column #1,653
TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World
By Mike McManus

TIME’s current issue is must reading for those tired of news of bombings, murder, and the weather. This week’s issue spotlights “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

It is uplifting to read about people who overcame great odds to build inspiring lives. Each leader is an exemplary role model, and each profile is written by a famous person.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg profiles Jay Z who grew up in Brooklyn’s public housing, dreaming of becoming a singer. When no recording company wanted his music, he “created his own label and built a music empire – before going on to design clothing lines, open sports bars” and as a co-owner of the NBA Nets, “helped bring major league sports back to Brooklyn.” Jay Z is now an entrepreneur worth $460 million and husband of Beyonce´.

The cover story features Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban. Chelsea Clinton reports that the Taliban hoped to “teach a `lesson’ to anyone who had the courage to stand up for education, freedom and self-determination, particularly for girls and women…” The 16-year-old is back in school and writing a memoir “to raise awareness about the 61 million children around the world who are not in school.”

Another female icon is Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won a 1990 election, but the military put her under house arrest. She was visited by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 1995, who found her “firm in her demands: real democracy and freedom for political prisoners.” Finally in 2011, she was released and elected to Parliament, and represents “bravery in defying - and defeating repression - giving hope to all who cherish liberty.”

About a quarter of the “most influential people” are predictable - Barack Obama and the president of China, Pope Francis and Sen. Rand Paul. However, many are people I never heard of but whose talent led them to create remarkable new worlds.

For example, Markus Persson and Jens Bergensten are 33-year-olds who created a computer game for kids called “Minecraft.” It enables children to use their imagination to create whatever they want – perhaps a story or a machine. The game introducies a new generation of kids to computer programming.

Kamala Harris is the first African American, the first South Asian and the first woman to be elected as California’s Attorney General. More important, she “took on big banks to secure a bill of rights for California homeowners and won up to $20 billion to help struggling families,” writes Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader.

In his first sermon, Pope Francis , leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, encouraged listeners: “Do not be afraid to love! Do not be afraid to be tender!” One cardinal turned to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, remarking, “He talks like Jesus.” Dolan replied, “I think that’s his job description.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is described by a 4th grader, Ginjer Doherty, who met him after Hurricane Sandy destroyed his house: “He called me a few days after the storm and asked if we had found a place to live yet, and if we were doing OK.”

Vice President Joe Biden is ironically profiled by Rep. Eric Cantor, Republican Majority Leader of the House, who writes, “Most impressive to me is his ability to build bidges, bring people together and get things done…Even though we disagree on many issues, he creates opportunities by treating people with kindness and respect and by speaking with honesty and candor.”

Stephen Spielberg, producer of Schindler’s List, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan and Close Encounters of the Third Kind - created Lincoln. Tom Brokaw writes that “Spielberg’s productions have a common thematic DNA of humanity, so we are enlightened as well as entertained. His work on Lincoln alone was worthy of enduring acclaim for it brought to life as no other film has this
quintessential American President struggling with the greatest moral dilemma of our history.”

Abdullah Ocalan, who wants to create a separate country for the Kurds from parts of Turkey and Iraq – has been imprisoned most of the last 15 years in Turkey. Yet, from his cell, like Nelson Mandela, he inspires his people to dream of democracy and freedom. He argues that it’s time to “silence the weapons and let the ideas and politics speak.”

How uplifting and refreshing to read about these amazing people.

In a world seemingly out of control- with terrorist bombings, tsunamis and school shootings, it is uplifting to be introduced to individuals who portray the goodness of humanity.

These extraordinary individuals offer hope for our troubled world.

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