Today’s Daily Prompt: “You’re asked to nominate someone for TIME’s Person of the Year. Who would it be, and why?:”
An excellent question. If we are talking about 2012 then several people immediately spring to mind but first I’d like to think about the idea of “TIME’s Person of The Year” (TPoTY).
TIME have long held that TPoTY is not an award as such, it is given to the person (and sometimes a group of people or a thing) who “for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Note that in 1939 they chose Adolf Hitler despite the blitzkreig across Europe and the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. More often though it has been awarded to someone admirable in the yea and we have come to see it as an award.
What do we mean by “influence the events of the year” and “admirable”? Who would I choose from the year 2012? Would I nominate someone that was a huge personal influence or someone who influenced the world?
I’d like to look at two young women and nominate them both.
In study after study it has been shown that one of the best ways of relieving people from poverty is by educating the women in a society. When you educate women family incomes rise, social stability rises, infant mortality drops at the same time as average family size drops, malnutrition drops and disease morbidity drops. It’s universally successful.
That’s why a young woman who is outspoken on women’s rights and education will always deserve our praise. When we see one who does so for many years in the middle of a repressive and violent regime it goes beyond that.
Malala Yousafzai was 11 when she first started writing a blog for the BBC on the repression that surrounded her in the Taliban controlled Swat area of Pakistan and her views, she was particularly vocal in her condemnation of school closures. She was so politically active and so loud a voice that her life was threatened by the Taliban.
This young girl was so loud in her criticisms of her society and became so well known that in 2011 Desmond Tutu nominated her for the International Children’s Peace Prize and in December of that year she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. All this at the age of thirteen.
Then in October last year a Taliban gunman walked onto her school bus and shot her in the face in an assassination attempt.
As a result Yousafzai became known across the world and her voice and her words became louder and more prominent.
Yousafzai became the youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and was indeed one of the four runners up for TPoTY. Already her supporters are opening schools in the Swat.
If only we could all have the passion, intelligence and commitment of this young woman.
If you are ever tempted to forget the problems of Pakistan and Afghanistan then remember that large areas of both are controlled by a regime that thinks it’s permissible to assassinate fourteen year old girls, a regime that will almost certainly end up with a large degree of political control in Afghanistan when the rest of the world pulls out.
So Yousafzai may have already been nominated but she gets a second from me.
Now onto a much more personal nomination.
A few years ago I started suffering from mild depression. Mild depression is something I’ve suffered with most of my life sometimes flaring into major chronic depression. Mild depression just makes stress and anxiety harder to cope with, makes my decision making a little erratic and personal relationships harder.
Then early last year my four year relationship finally imploded in an incredibly painful way and my depression flared badly. Before I knew it I was deep into one of the worst episodes of major chronic depression in my life.
It reached a point where I was constantly weeping, barely moved from the couch and could only sleep when totally exhausted. At the point where I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or hallucinating I decided to go to the hospital.
I spent six hours sitting in a corner of the waiting room in Emergency sobbing quietly without seeing a Doctor or getting any treatment becoming more an more anxious until eventually I just left.
Over the next few weeks I tried talking to the Mental Health Crisis team but they were no help, on one occasion when I was talking to a woman sobbing for help she put me on hold and I gave up. I tried phoning Lifeline a couple of times but hung up every time when I had been on hold for more than half an hour.
One morning it reached a point where I knew I needed help urgently but after my last contact with Emergency and the Mental Health crisis I couldn’t even phone Triple Zero I was so anxious. I tried to contact my GP but she wasn’t in her office.
Scared, sobbing hard into the phone, I rang my 19 year old daughter Jessica who was living nearby in College and asked her to come over and help me.
I couldn’t stop sobbing, I was shaking constantly and I was wheezing a little from my asthma. I smelled, as I hadn’t had a shower or changed my clothes in three days. When Jessi arrived I could see how shocked and frightened and anxious she was but she was amazing.
She rang the Mental Health Crisis team who told her to ring an ambulance. She packed my shoulder bag and a backpack with essentials. She held it together talking to the ambulance officers and the two police. She took the decision to drive me into Emergency herself as the ambo guys told her that they couldn’t guarantee to take me to RPA Hospital which had a good mental health unit, they wouldn’t even know which hospital until they had me loaded and called it in.
When we arrived at Emergency she handled all the paperwork and when the triage nurse wanted to put me back in the waiting room she refused. She told him “We can immediately get a bed, we can wait here or you can find somewhere else for us to wait but we aren’t going back to the waiting room, my Dad spent six hours there and he won’t cope.”
After we spent a short time waiting in a “quiet room” I think they had for families of the seriously ill we were taken to a bed. One again Jessi was incredible, she handled the doctors, she dragged out a plastic bag full of my daily meds and walked me through telling the nurses and doctors the dosages. She refused to give in to the fear I could see and stayed with me until I was taken to the psych ward twelve hours later and made sure she knew when she could visit me the next day.
The courage, the strength and the love she showed that long day were incredible, almost unbelievable. This year she has made the decision, without any asking or prompting on my part, to move in with me and every day she is here she makes my life easier in a hundred small ways.
So I’d like to nominate the children who find themselves caring for an ill parent and give as an example my daughter Jessica. Time People of The Year – The Young Carers.