30 December 2013

If I had a Person of the Year Award

My choice would not be the Pope.

He seems like a nice guy (though he should go easy about his PR goons who leak his every move to the media). But his organization has a bit too much to apologize for. And I didn't even linked to massive sexual abuse scandal in the previous century.

My person of the year would be Edward Snowden.

First, I am not sure that at his age I would leave a $200,000 job in Hawaii and get myself in the crosshairs of the largest intelligence organization in the world.

He did it.

People don't seem to understand how much courage and determination that takes.

Moreover, his goals were really outstanding. As he recently explained, he was not trying to change the world, he was just trying to let people decide whether they want the world changed.

I am pretty sure that at his age, I would have missed this nuance.

The only person I admired more was a former neighbor of mine.

His name was Wilhelm Pfeffer (or as I knew him Bill Pfeffer) and he was the right age to have been part of the WWII. Yet, no one knew his history. One day I asked him how it was and he told me rather matter-of-factly (just-because-you-asked-young-man) that as a young German at the tender age of 19, he decided that Hitler was an abomination. And he made the decision to move to France not to be part of his army of murderers, he said.

That is not all.

Once France was occupied, he moved with the French Resistance to Algeria but told them them he was a pacifist and would not fight and kill. He was a geologist and he offered to train French soldiers instead.

Think about that.

At 19 (a) he knew Hitler was an abomination (something that most West Europeans and North Americans did not get for a long time) (b) he accepted the consequences of leaving his country (c) he refused to become a killer for the other side just to be accepted.

That is the definition of courage to me.

I don't know anyone who could do these things at that age and especially at that time.

Perhaps more importantly, he never shared these details with friends and neighbors. He did the right thing and he did not even let others know he was on the side of the angels.

That is a mensch in my book.

He was my hero.

So, if I had a Person of the Year Award, it would be called Wilhelm Pfeffer Person of the Year Award.

And I would give it to Edward Snowden this year.

But I don't have such an award because I doubt that I will ever find another worthy recipient.

No comments:

Post a Comment