‘Heroes Of Our Time Vote: the Top 50’
New Statesman Magazine Cover Story
During Spring 2006 the international politics/current affairs journal New Statesman conducted a vote among readers for the top 50 heroes of our time. The definition of a hero: ‘A man or woman whose actions have been in the service of the greater good and whose influence is national or international: someone who is prepared to act in pursuit of a freer, more equitable and democratic future, without recourse to violence’.
The New Statesman is similar to the US-based international magazine Newsweek.
Top of poll – Aung San Suu Kyi.
Plus UK post-conflict specialist also recognised in Top 50 Heroes of Our Time poll: see ‘Lesley Abdela’ below. More information on each name can be found on search engines such as Google.
See complete poll on www.newstatesman.com/200605220016
The response, published as the magazine’s cover story, is ‘as surprising in its range and unpredictability as it was overwhelming’ though the first three are to be expected, world figures Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela and Bob Geldof. No. 49 is leading theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, and No 50, Andrew Flintoff, famous English cricketer.
Quite a few respondents thought the magazine meant ‘people for our time’ rather than people alive and active now, so Winston Churchill, Jesus and Marie Curie received a good number of votes.
Of the 50 who topped the poll, 10 are female (20%).
Other women on the Top 50 list include American, Australian, Burmese, Irish and Russian.
Campaigners ranked significantly, hence Bob Dylan (37th) and Bono (30th), Aung San Suu Kyi (1st), Mordechai Vanunu (24th), Lesley Abdela (34th), Helena Kennedy (40th), Noam Chomsky (7th) and campaigning journalist John Pilger (4th).
Women voted into the top 50 Heroes of our Time:
Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese pro-democracy campaigner (1st)
Margaret Thatcher, UK Prime Minister 1979-90 (5th)
Mary Robinson, Ethical Globalisation Initiative, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (20th)
Germaine Greer, Academic and Broadcaster, author of ‘The Female Eunuch’ (25th)
Queen Elizabeth 11, most travelled head of state in history (33rd)
Lesley Abdela, international Champion of Women’s Rights, specialist in ‘gender in post-deadly conflict reconstruction’ (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Aceh, Sierra Leone) (34th) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shami Chakrabarti, Civil liberties campaigner, Director of human-rights group Liberty (35th)
Anna Politkovskaya, Russian journalist reporting on Chechnya war (39th)
Helena Kennedy QC, leading British lawyer, especially on social justice (40th)
Toni Morrison, Pulitzer Prizewinner novelist on black America (48th)
Some of the men voted among the Top 50 heroes of our time (not in order) –
Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate, writing on poverty, welfare and development (29th)
Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, with his wife Melinda one of the greatest philanthropists (8th)
Dalai Lama, Buddhist spiritual leader (9th)
Hans Blix, former UN weapons inspector (15th)
Tony Benn, former Cabinet Minister, veteran anti-war campaigner (12th)
Mikhail Gorbachev, last leader of the Soviet Union, relinquished power to help bring Cold War to an end (13th)
Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the worldwide web (28th)
Jimmy Carter, former US President, founder of the Carter Center, dedicated to alleviating poverty (41st)
Richard Dawkins, evolutionary theorist (26th)
Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank, ‘banker to the poor’ (22nd)
John Carr, international Internet safety expert, advises on protecting children from the dangers of the web (42nd)
Peter Tatchell, co-founder of OutRage, who attempted citizen’s arrest on Robert Mugabe (6th)
The New Statesman wrote: ‘Among those who just missed out from the final 50 were Roméo Dallaire, the stoical head of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda at the time of the genocide in 1994; Subcomandante Marcos, the philosopher-rebel and one of the leaders of the Zapatista liberation movement in Mexico; the CND activist Bruce Kent; the comedian and birdwatcher Bill Oddie; the young man who defied the Chinese during the Tiananmen Square revolt of 1989 - the "unknown rebel", as readers called him; and, oddly, the American blue-collar rocker Bruce Springsteen. I was surprised that Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa did not make our top ten. He is such a brave and admirable person whose sense of compassion and forgiveness are defined by his faith. But perhaps when people think of bravery and moral courage in South Africa they think first, and inevitably, of Nelson Mandela.’
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