In Search of the Man of the Year
By Alqi Koçiko
Albanian Daily News
Published December 26, 2016

There is a “media frenzy” during the year-end holidays to try and find “the man of the year”. Or the woman for that matter. Newspapers, magazines and online outlets around the globe search and categorize the deeds and accomplishments of local or international powerful people in politics, prestigious institutions or art and showbiz, to finally pick the best candidate. Someone would argue that American elections, for example, exist solely to supply Time Magazine’s December issue with a famous face every four years.

Of course this is a joke. But the serious part of the story is that modern society yearns for the powerful, the rich, the famous, the winner… And this story is an old one.

That’s why it was somewhat shocking when the Catholic Archbishop Monsignor Frendo vowed few days ago that he would discontinue the hypocritical tradition of receiving politicians and public officials on Christmas Eve, to focus only on the poor and needy. Shocking in a good way, because it is no secret that public opinion greeted this announcement. I personally hope that high clerics of other religions would follow this example too. Religious and other holidays do not exist to give another opportunity to political leaders to display their vanity. A similar message was conveyed by Ombudsman Totozani too.

So where to find this year’s “man of the year”? We should not bother at all, I think. I was witnessing these last days at a great mall close to the capital, a few young people who were inviting the mall customers to donate something, no matter its value, for the people and families in need. Surprisingly for these times of individualism and indifference, buyers were filling with donations the big baskets just outside the counters. These young volunteers had chosen not to spend hours sitting around at the bars and cafes, but to help others; and to spread the spirit of giving. So did other youngsters yesterday, delivering the Christmas dinner at the center of Tirana for the poor.

Sure, it’s never enough and it’s too little to volunteer for a day. But if more of us decide to raise our children like that, to instill them with the philosophy of assisting, helping, giving a hand, we are on the way to creating a man or woman of the year. We will be ourselves men and women of the year. And in the end, we’ll find out that we don’t even need a magazine cover. That’s why these special days should be just another reminder to us all that a human being can come and go from this world just as a mere being, if he fails to be human.

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