From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Wall Street movement, “The Protester” was named Time magazine's 2011 Person of the Year. Time defines the Person of the Year as someone who, for better or for worse, influences the events of the year.
Is there a global tipping point for frustration? Everywhere, it seems, people said they'd had enough, Time Editor Rick Stengel said in a statement.
They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets. They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change, he said.
On almost every continent, 2011 has seen an almost unprecedented rise in both peaceful and sometimes violent unrest and dissent.
Protesters in a lengthening list of countries including Israel, India, Chile, China, Britain, Spain and now the United States all increasingly link their actions explicitly to the popular revolutions that have shaken up the Middle East.
Admiral William McRaven, head of US Special Operations Command and overall commander of the secret US mission into Pakistan in May that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, came in at second place on the Time list.
Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, whose 81 day secret detention by authorities earlier this year sparked an international outcry, came in at No. 3, followed by US House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Britain's Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who married Prince William in April, rounded out the Time short list.
There's this contagion of protest, managing editor Richard Stengel said on interview to the NBC television. “These people who risked their lives... I think it is changing the world for the better.”
“In North America and most of Europe, there are no dictators, and dissidents don't get tortured. Any day that Tunisians, Egyptians or Syrians occupy streets and squares, they know that some of them might be beaten or shot, not just pepper-sprayed or flex-cuffed. The protesters in the Middle East and North Africa are literally dying to get political systems that roughly resemble the ones that seem intolerably undemocratic to protesters in Madrid, Athens, London and New York City,” said the front article at Time magazine
“No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square, it would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. In 2011, protesters didn’t just voice their complaints; they changed the world,” read the story.