Follow the link if you wish to see TIME’s 100 most influential pioneers, leaders, titans, artists and icons of 2018
I heard a report on the radio about the list whilst driving from visiting my father in hospital.
He’s been in one ward or another now for over a month, tended by any number of nurses and health care assistants. These people have washed and shaved him, changed his clothes, sat him up in bed and made him comfortable. They’ve given him his pills and injections, mashed his food, helped him to eat and drink and done everything they can to help him get better. He spent his 80th birthday in hospital and the ward staff baked not one but two cakes, decorated his bed and even bought paper hats for him and the other patients.
Now, I’m not claiming that all nurses are angels. Not all the staff I’ve encountered have displayed the same level of dedication, but I find it hard to believe that anybody could be doing the job unless they really wanted to look after people. And at the end of the day, they’ve actually done something. Their patients are cleaned, fed and have had their medication administered.
And so, as I drove from the hospital listening to the radio, it occurred to me that I really didn’t care how influential the people on Time’s list are. I didn’t care what they’ve tweeted, what speeches they’d made or how many disaster areas they’d visited. At this point in time, I don’t care about the films the people on the list have starred in, the books they’ve written or how their art inspires others.
Right now, I’m not interested in lionising people who tell others what to do. Right now, I’d rather hear about the millions of people who just get on with their job. I’m annoyed by the list’s tacit promotion of exceptionalism.
Ideas that change things for the better aren’t the preserve of the exceptional few, look around and you’ll see that they’re already being carried out unnoticed every day by the vast majority. Ideas aren’t any the less valuable for that.
Or to put it another way, any half competent nurse is already doing more for the world than at least half of the people on Time’s list.