Greta Thunberg is TIME's youngest Person of the Year

(Photo by AFP)

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who began a global movement by skipping school and demanding action on climate change, angrily thundering “How Dare You” at the world’s most powerful leaders during the UN Climate Summit for their inaction, was on Wednesday declared as Time magazine's 2019 Person of the Year.

“For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year," the US publication said.

At 16, Thunberg is the youngest individual ever to be named TIME’s Person of the Year. The publication said the annual honour is historically accorded to people who worked their way up the ladders of major organisations and were at home in the corridors of power.

“But in this moment when so many traditional institutions seem to be failing us, amid staggering inequality and social upheaval and political paralysis, we are seeing new kinds of influence take hold. It is wielded by people like Thunberg, leaders with a cause and a phone who don’t fit the old rubrics but who connect with us in ways that institutions can’t and perhaps never could.”

TIME named the US Women’s Soccer Team as the ‘Athlete of the Year,’ the US Public Servants as ‘Guardians of the Year’, singer Lizzo as ‘Entertainer of the Year’ and Disney CEO Bob Iger as ‘Business Person of the Year.’

TIME said that in the course of little more than a year, Thunberg from Stockholm went from a solitary protest for climate action on the cobblestones outside her country’s Parliament to leading a worldwide youth movement; “from a schoolkid conjugating verbs in French class to meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and receiving audiences with Presidents and the Pope; from a solo demonstrator with a hand-painted slogan (Skolstrejk for Klimatet) to inspiring millions of people across more than 150 countries to take to the streets on behalf of the planet we share.”

Thunberg had courageously looked the world leaders in the eyes and yelled “How dare you” as she sat next to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during the Climate Summit at the world organisation in September this year, scolding them for their inaction and empty words on climate change.

“You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?” she said. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.”

TIME said meaningful change rarely happens without the galvanizing force of influential individuals, and in 2019, the earth’s existential crisis found one in Thunberg.

“Marshaling ‘Fridays for Future’ protests throughout Europe; thundering, “How dare you!” at the world’s most powerful leaders in her viral UN speech; leading some 7 million climate strikers across the world in September and tens of thousands more in Madrid in early December, Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet—and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington," the magazine said.

On the US Women’s Soccer Team, TIME said It has been more than five months since the US women’s soccer team won the World Cup, yet yet barely a day goes by that the team’s captain Megan Rapinoe doesn’t hear about it from strangers. “A young girl at a soccer clinic. A middle-aged man at an airport. Parents the world over via social media. No matter who or where, the topic is always the same: how the team changed a life."

“A trophy—even for the world’s most prestigious soccer tournament—rarely alters the life of someone who didn’t win it. Nor does a game played in summer tend to generate dinner-table discussions as fall gives way to winter, least of all about gender equity in the workplace.

"But if there was any question before the World Cup that the US had sent over a team that transcended sports, it was emphatically clear upon their return from France, at the ticker-tape parade through New York City’s Canyon of Heroes that welcomed them home. Thousands of supporters lined the streets of lower Manhattan to share the rapturous joy of 23 women whose unalloyed pride in their accomplishment, and determination to see it shared, seemed to mark a new era," the magazine said.

The public servants including 33-year veteran diplomat Marie Yovanovitch, President Donald Trump’s top Russia expert Fiona Hill and Hill’s Ukraine expert on the National Security Council (NSC), Lieut. Colonel Alexander Vindman all came forward to tell their stories about how they felt Trump had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election.

On Lizzo, the publication said “In 2019, Lizzo was a beam of light shining through doom and gloom, telling us to love ourselves even if the world doesn’t always love us back. We needed her.”

Describing Disney CEO Iger as “unassailable,” TIME said he has transformed his company “from a stuffy media doyen into a sexy cultural force” and into a “gargantuan media and tech business while ensuring that the Walt Disney Co.’s products remain widely beloved.”

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