Weve been blessed with yet another year-end Most Admired People poll, this one from Gallup and USA Today, and it tells us the same thing as all previous ones: not much. The male winner this year is President Obama. In other words, for the jillionth time, whoever is president has won the Most Admired Man award. Hey, at least we know that Americans know who currently lives in the White House, which is comforting, considering how much you hear about U.S. citizens abysmal ignorance. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is this years most admired woman, according to the poll, which also is no surprise considering how much she's in the news.
The names come and go through the years, but what the poll always reaffirms is our cult of celebrity. Others on this year's lists include a parade of people who are regularly featured in the media, like Sarah Palin (who got the most votes among Republicans), Oprah, the Pope, Billy Graham, Angelina Jolie, etc. At least we can be grateful that Kim Kardashian didnt make it. But seriously, think about it. Does the person you honestly admire most also happen to be one of the most famous people in the world? Probably not. It might be someone who volunteers a lot of time to good causes; a person who opened your child to new worlds; an aging relative whos gone back to college. But politicians? Really? A closer look at the polls complete results (which you can see if you click through on the above linked Gallup story) shows that many people around 10 percent named a friend or relative. And Americans seem to have a growing cynicism toward heroes of any sort, if the poll is an indication: nearly a quarter of respondents gave the most popular answer: No one, or no opinion.
Id like to know who your true heroes are, the people you really admire the most. Tell us in the comments section at the end of this section, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My own list would include a smattering of celebs who I think are doing good and valuable things: former President Carter, Burmese political activist Aung San Suu Kyi (who was #9 on this year's list), or writer/singer Patti Smith. But my real picks would be people like an old friend who works tirelessly on animal rescue issues (without becoming a crazy person); the people who run the Urban Ministry downtown; Jim Devereaux, a former priest at St. Peters Catholic; a particularly terrific teacher at Northwest School of the Arts; a great-aunt who, on a limited budget, served as loving matriarch, through thick and thin, to an extended family of grandkids, nieces and nephews. Those are the kinds of people who keep things real for the rest of us. Theyre the ones who deserve to be ranked above mere celebrities. Let us know how you feel about it, and who you would pick for your list.