Edward Felsenthal, editor-in-chief of Time, exclusively reveals on TODAY the magazine’s pick for its 2022 Person of the Year: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the spirit of Ukraine.I'll get to the Women of Iran as Heroes of the Year tomorrow. In the meantime, watch Time Magazine's own video, Volodymyr Zelensky and the Spirit of Ukraine: TIME Person of the Year 2022.
Zelensky’s success as a wartime leader has relied on the fact that courage is contagious. It spread through Ukraine’s political leadership in the first days of the invasion, as everyone realized the President had stuck around. If that seems like a natural thing for a leader to do in a crisis, consider historical precedent. Only six months earlier, the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani—a far more experienced leader than Zelensky—fled his capital as Taliban forces approached. In 2014, one of Zelensky’s predecessors, Viktor Yanukovych, ran away from Kyiv as protesters closed in on his residence; he still lives in Russia today. Early in the Second World War, the leaders of Albania, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Yugoslavia, among others, fled the advance of the German Wehrmacht and lived out the war in exile.I think Zelenskyy is an excellent choice and I hope this honor ages better than Elon Musk as Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2021. That's not looking as good now as it did then. On the other hand, Lizzo as Time's 2019 Entertainer of the Year still holds up well three years later.
There wasn’t much in Zelensky’s biography to predict his willingness to stand and fight. He had never served in the military or shown much interest in its affairs. He had only been President since April 2019. His professional instincts derived from a lifetime as an actor on the stage, a specialist in improv comedy, and a producer in the movie business.
That experience turned out to have its advantages. Zelensky was adaptable, trained not to lose his nerve under pressure. He knew how to read a crowd and react to its moods and expectations. Now his audience was the world. He was determined not to let them down.
Speaking of Entertainer of the Year, I'll get to them for the Sunday entertainment feature after I write about the Women of Iran as Heroes of the Year tomorrow and the Innovator of the Year on Saturday for Nobel Prize Day. Stay tuned.
*I'll be frank; I selected this video and placed it first as much for its preview image as for its content. I'm not above such petty considerations in my blogging.