Time’s 2011 Person of the Year is not a person at all. The Person of the Year is the Protester, because, this year, “leadership has come from the bottom of the pyramid, not the top.” This year, an archetype is developing. This year, Democracy rules.
The root of the word democracy is demos, which means the people. All around the world, the people have taken to the streets to protest crime and corruption, as well as public debt and systematic financial inequality. Some protesters are keeping democracy alive in already democratic institutions, while others are undergoing extreme hardship to give it birth. In the Middle East and North Africa, people are dying to obtain the very same democratic governments that protesters in other parts of the world consider irresponsible and feckless. In undemocratic institutions, protesters aren’t going to receive a slap on the wrist, they are going to be beaten, they are going to be shot, they are going to be killed.
Now, I’m not saying that citizens in first world countries should stop demonstrating, not at all; I’m merely recommending that those more privileged citizens stand back and examine what they have to heighten their appreciation of the ability to raise their voice without dire consequences. I’m hoping that we can all look back on these events and salute the brave dissenters, and more than anything, I am hoping their dissent will make a change for the better in every state of the world.