Last week, I was flipping through my free over the air TV channels and came across Barbara Walters’ annual Most Fascinating People special. At that very moment, Ms. Walters was interviewing the Kardashian family: Khloe, Kourtney, Kim, and Kris. “Reality” TV stars as one of the most fascinating people of 2011? I don’t think so.
How about the three women that won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize? Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowwee, and Tawakkul Karman deal with “reality” everyday by acting as role models and strong leaders for women’s equality. According to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, the three were selected: “…for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Sorry Karadashian family but “substance” beyond material possession collection must be a requirement to become fascinating to me.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (nickname “Iron Lady”) is the first female elected head of state in Africa as President of Liberia. The Harvard graduate is known for securing peace in her country and fighting for women’s rights. Sirleaf: “Each of us has her own voice, and the differences among us are to be celebrated. But our goals are in harmony. They are the pursuit of peace, the pursuit of justice. They are the defense of rights to which all people are entitled.”
Leymah Gbowwee is a social and peace worker in Liberia. She fought and organized protests against the rape of women and children in war. Gbowwee: “I must be quick to add that this prize is not just in recognition of the triumph of women. It is a triumph of humanity. To recognize and honor women, the other half of humanity, is to achieve universal wholeness and balance.”
Tawakkul Karman, an activist and journalist in Yemen, is the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She played a key role in leading the fight for women’s rights and organizing political change in Yemen. Karman: “Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to share my belief that peace will remain the hope of mankind forever, and that the best hope for a better future for mankind will always drive us to speak noble words and do noble deeds. Together, we will push the horizons, one after another, towards a world of true human perfection.”
A real “star” is a person who strives for their convictions and makes a positive difference. Being special is beyond pure existence and dependent on the positive difference you make in society.
This holiday season, I would like to celebrate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowwee, and Takwakkul Karman. Three wise women, each one bearing the gifts of knowledge and bravery onto our global society. No need for constant television attention or narcissistic behavior for these ladies. Peace and equality is what they desire.