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Thursday, January 24, 2013

My 2012 Person of the Year

Another year has finally come to an end and with it another opportunity to reflect on the people and events that helped to make 2012 an unforgettable moment in history.  Yes, I realize that I am 24 days PAST the new year, but I still wanted to get this post in before moving forward with anything else.  For the millions...er...half dozen of fans of Corazon's Corner, I am pleased to present the second annual installment of my Person of the Year award (you can see last year's winners by clicking here).  So, without further delay, here are my selections for 2012's Person of the Year:



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10.) Michael Phelps
Last summer, at the Olympic Games in London, Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all-time, winning 22 medals overall for his career, 18 of which were gold.  Phelps' dominance in the pool over the last 15 years (and 3 Olympic games) has made him swimming's ultimate hero, not to mention has earned him millions of dollars (impressive considering the fact that swimmers really aren't that celebrated).  2012 also marks the end of Phelps' dominance, as he announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of the London Games.  Thanks, M.P. for all the memories! You were a joy to watch!

9.) The Super Hero
So maybe this selection is a little over the top and is certainly influenced by the fact that my two young boys are DIE HARD super hero fans right now. With that said, I couldn't help but notice just how prevalent super heroes were in our culture last year.  For example, the top two grossing films for 2012 were The Avengers ($623 million) and The Dark Knight Rises ($448 million), while The Amazing Spiderman came in 6th ($262 million).  For whatever reason, the super hero has been a big deal in American (and world) culture in 2012, but I think it isn't simply due to their entertainment value.  Super heroes make us hopeful.  They make us believe that a better world, with better people (capable of amazing feats) is possible.  The past few years have brought with them a measure of economic and social decline, but the super hero, albeit fictional, makes us feel like the darkness can and will eventually give way to the dawn.  And if not....Hulk SMASH!!!!!

8.) Bashar al-Assad
Just another asshole dictator trying to maintain his pathetic regime at the cost of the people he claims to "love." Bashar is the second of four sons (and one daughter) of the al-Assad family, which rose to power in Syria in the 1960s.  The family line is one of tyranny and evil, and Bashar seems more than happy to continue the family business.  The struggle of the Syrian citizenry gripped the headlines throughout 2012, and al-Assad is a chief reason for it.  His unwillingness to compromise or release even a small measure of control has caused misery and despair for far too many. One can only hope that Bashar's people will have the opportunity to show him the same love that the Lybians showed Muammar Gaddafi.

7.) Queen Elizabeth II
Back in June of last year, Queen Elizabeth II, along with millions of citizens of Great Britain and the Commonwealth across the globe, celebrated the Diamond Jubilee (60th anniversary) of Britain's second longest standing monarch.  Queen Elizabeth II's reign has been one of constant change.  She came to the throne at the conclusion of the Second World War, and witnessed first-hand the social, political and economic evolution of Great Britain from that of a dominant world power to a lesser but still very relevant nation.  In addition, the British Royal Family has experienced a number of ups and downs that have caused popular support for their reign to ebb and flow over the years.  Everything from Princess Diana, Lady Camilla, and a wild Prince Harry have captivated the tabloids, and brought the Royal Family unwanted attention. Yet through it all, Queen Elizabeth has managed to keep the British Monarchy relevant.  Her approval is still quite high and doesn't appear to change any time soon.  She truly has become the embodiment of everything special about Great Britain.

6.) Barack Obama
Any time you are the President of the United States you are probably a lock to be a top 10 Person of the Year every year. But when you win reelection it becomes a virtual requirement. Of course, we all know that President Obama won a second term in the Oval Office, despite facing a number of obstacles that, at least to some, threatened his chances in a big way. From a historical perspective, it is rare that a standing president with high unemployment levels and rising debt is able to win a second term, but Obama did just that, and did so in fairly convincing fashion. Some will argue that he won because of Romney's ineptitude, others will say he won because he was a success in his first term. Personally, I think he won because of a shifting electorate. Best of luck with your second term, Mr. President. We all wish you the best.

5.) The Changing American Voter
As stated in the comment above, I firmly believe that Barack Obama won reelection thanks in large part to a shifting electorate.  The American voter is, no longer, what he once was.  The clear shift in demographics, predominantly marked by a massive increase in Latino voters, has forever changed the American political landscape.  No longer can a national candidate hope to guarantee his/her seat in office by focusing on the traditional "meat and potato" voting block.  An increased number of Latino, African American and female voters, along with a younger demographic, has changed the game in a big way.  President Obama's team understood this, Romney's did not.  Pure and simple. 

4.) Neil Armstrong
Okay, I must admit, I am a bit of a space nerd but that isn't the reason I made this pick.  When it comes to exploration, there is no greater name than that of Neil Armstrong.  People of this generation seem to forget (or never understood in the first place) just how important of an achievement the Apollo space program really was, and Neil Armstrong is its crowning gem.  As the first man to walk on the Moon, Armstrong forever etched his legacy in stone with the likes of Columbus, Magellan and Lindbergh (he actually surpasses those guys).  After his astronaut career, Armstrong essentially retired from public life.  He was rarely if ever outspoken except for on a few key issues, the main one of course being the importance of further space exploration (a cause that I agree with 100%).  With the passing of Armstrong, along with the retirement of the Space Shuttle, one has to wonder if America will ever explore the heavens again like we once did so many years ago. One can only hope that the legacy of this, the greatest explorer in human history, will challenge us to do better...MUCH better!  

3.) Curiosity: The Mars Rover
On August 6th of last year, at approximately 5:17 a.m. (EST), a 7ft tall, 9ft long, 2,000lb robotic car named Curiosity made contact with the surface of Mars.  This, of course, was not the first time that a human-built robotic object has graced the Martian surface.  Far from it.  Curiosity, however, is still a special achievement.  Her size, strength, speed, mobility, on board navigation and communications alone make her the most advanced rover to ever venture into space.  But that isn't all that Curiosity has packed under her skirt.  Along with all of her technological advances, Curiosity is also equipped with the most advanced biological, geological, geochemical and radiological sensors/equipment known to man.  Her mission, which is primarily to assess if life has/is/is capable of existing on Mars, has already yielded mountains of invaluable data, and will surely supply even greater amounts of data in the coming months.  Thanks to Curiosity and other rovers like her, Mars is becoming less like the distant alien world our ancestors worshiped, and more like a friendly neighbor who lives next door. 

2.) The Nut-Job
2012 saw no shortage of paranoid, idiotic, crazy, whacked out, Looney Tune, kookoo for Cocoa Puffs, doomsday nut-jobs!  In fact, 2012 was full of them.  Whether it was the Newtown Connecticut shooting, the Aurora movie theater shooting, the Seattle cafe shooting, the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin (4 of at least 16 mass shootings last year), 2012 saw its fair share of psychotic evil.  But that wasn't all.  As if our crazy train wasn't full enough, 2012 also saw plenty of paranoid political propagandists as well.  With the election of 2012, both extremes of the political spectrum had more than enough crazy to last a lifetime.  But the biggest nut-jobs of the year have to be the dimwits who bought into the whole Mayan apocalypse.  From doom bunkers to cataclysmic global power outages, these wackos spent ridiculous sums of money and time preparing for an end that never came.  And, of course, let's not forget the other "end of days" loons.  People like Warren Jeffs, who has convinced his polygamous flock that the world was going to end before New Year's Day, and the Westboro Baptist Church, which has protested everything under the sun in the name of some psychotic apocalyptic god.  Yes, I think it is safe to say that the inmates took over at least a portion of the asylum in 2012.  Here's hoping we can get rid of them in 2013.  In the words of Jack Nicholson from the movie, As Good As It Gets, "Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here." 

And the winner of the 2012 Corazon's Corner Person of the Year Award is.....{cue drum roll}........


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1.) Malala Yousafzai
Though she may seem like any other average teenage girl, the life and story of Malala Yousafazai is far from mundane.  Long story short, she has become the embodiment of everything hopeful and praiseworthy about the "Arab Spring."  Her short life has served to illustrate the power and value of every human life, regardless of age, race, gender or religion.

Malala's story begins with her quest to challenge the social, political and religious norms of her home in Pakistan by insisting on her right to pursue an education (something forbidden to young girls).  Her insistent petitions eventually let to her expulsion from school, along with severe condemnation for her family.  Eventually, however, Malala's vocal pleas provided her with an opportunity to become a blogger for the BBC.  Malala used the opportunity to share with the world not only her plight but her dreams, goals and aspirations.  In so doing, this added a human element to conditions in Pakistan (and many other parts of the world), which garnered greater support for change.  Eventually, the attention forced Pakistani officials to reluctantly re-open schools for young girls.  Malala's efforts in this manner, coupled with her devotion to other women and human rights causes, eventually led to her being awarded the National Youth Peace Prize and International Children's Peace Prize.  Malala has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as well.

Sadly, Malala was shot and almost killed in October of last year by Taliban radicals.  After spending weeks in a coma and months in recovery, Malala was eventually healthy enough to be transported to Great Britain where she had a full recovery.  Malala's iron will and grit not only let to her physical triumph over her foes, but continues to aid her in the continued cause of peace and human rights.

There is no doubt that the "Arab Spring" still has a long way to go, but thanks in large part to the efforts of Malala Yousafzai and others like her, there is great hope for a renaissance of sorts taking place in the Middle East and other areas.  Malala's impact will, no doubt, be felt for generations to come.  As a Joan of Arc of sorts to the Muslim world, Malala's life serves as proof that nobody is too young or feeble to make a change.  This makes her the PERFECT selection for the Corazon's Corner Person of 2012.

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