We’ve seen a lot this year. Some amazing accomplishments, but also some horrific tragedies. The fact is, the actions of people with a lot of power influence our daily lives.
To end 2014, I have compiled a list of 15 people who I believe are to be the most influential of the year. Ranging from world leaders to artists, I have taken everyone into consideration and this list is uniquely mine.
15) Xi Jinping
The premier of China, Jinping took office last year. He has taken moderate steps to reduce corruption and to lessen the grip the government has on the people, though we must wait to see how much of this continues. Will the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong influence any of his decisions?
14) Prime Minister David Cameron
Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain, has faced opposition from both the Labour Party and his own Conservative Party. However, Cameron has stood firm for Britain and her interests in the Middle East, and is a key player in the ongoing Russian conflict.
13) Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi
After overthrowing Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in July of 2013, General Al-Sisi has been an uncertain rock that Egypt has stood on. Elected as President in June of 2014, we must wait to see if Al-Sisi is a democrat or another dictator for a weary Egypt.
12) Michael Brown
Michael Brown’s death in 2014 at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson reopened the debate on race, poverty, the use of force by police, and the justice system. It also revealed that, sadly, we are very much the same country we were 50 years ago when it comes to race, except just less blatantly.
11) Lebron James
Lebron James made by far the biggest sports news (yes, bigger than Ray Rice) by announcing he was returning to the Cavaliers. There, he has helped the team accumulate a 18-13 record, and has proven that, even at the age of 30, he is still the greatest basketball player of the 21st Century.
10) Jennifer Lawrence
Starring in the 2014 films “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” and the critically-acclaimed “X-Men: Days of Future Past” Jennifer Lawrence is on a mission to prove that acting is not a lost art along with empowering women. Her influence is not likely to go anywhere but up.
9) Angelina Jolie
An influential mainstay, along with being one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history, Angelina Jolie has not gone anywhere in 2014. Starring in “Maleficent” and continuing her work with refugees through the UNHCR has easily earned Jolie a spot on this list.
8) Jimmy Fallon
The greatest comedian to come out of Hollywood since Johnny Carson, Jimmy Fallon now hosts that legend’s “Tonight Show”. Fallon has proven he is a comedic legend himself many times over, and is a breath of real comedy in the (luckily ending) Age of Adam Sandler. I believe that 2014 may be the start of the new Comedic Age Of Jimmy Fallon. Thank God for that.
7) Pope Francis
The most influential leader the Catholic Church has had in decades, Pope Francis proves time and time again that his commitment to make the Church a place of greater compassion and tolerance should inspire us all.
6) Janet Yellen
After taking over as Chair of the Federal Reserve, Yellen became the first woman to hold that position. Yellen’s influence will truly be felt in 2015 as the economy begins to return to more normality after the Great Recession.
5) Malala Yousafzai
Recipient (along with Kailash Satyarthi) of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize (its youngest recipient), Malala Yousafzai has proven that her work for children and women around the world is only just beginning. I consider her to be one of the bravest and courageous people currently living on this Earth. Her influence will only increase.
4) Angela Merkel
From dealing with the affairs of the European Union to those internally in Germany, Angela Merkel has been waist-deep in every international conflict of 2014. She will be one to watch when the Second Cold War picks up next year and beyond.
3) Hillary Clinton
From the publication of Hard Choices to a campaign being run for her even without her officially running yet, Hillary Clinton has proven truly how influential she is to the world. Voted as the most admired woman of the year for the 19th time in a row, Clinton will be gearing up for the beginnings of a presidential campaign next year.
2) Beyoncé Knowles
2014 has cemented Beyoncé as the greatest artist ever, surpassing Michael Jackson. From the most successful (5 million+ copies sold), well-crafted, and most-original album since Thriller being released at the very end of 2013 to the On The Run Tour to the legendary VMA performance, Beyoncé has proven herself to be way above any other artist. Worth more than any other black artist at almost $500 million, the most Grammy-nominated artist in history, and her stand as a humanist (real equality for men and women) has made her the greatest artist in history. And she’s only 33.
Now, 1 is a tie between:
1) Barack Obama
Unhindered by any future election or by what other people think, Obama kicked 2014 into high gear by accomplishing all possible in his power on immigration, civil rights, and the economy. With job numbers almost at 11 million, Obama has proven to be the most courageous leader we have had since Kennedy. He has stood for all free people when it comes to Russian aggression, and defends American interests by leading the fight against ISIS. I am excited to see what he accomplishes in 2015.
1) Vladimir Putin
I have covered the Russian invasion of Ukraine on this blog, writing a total of 17 articles on it. Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent, has embarked on a campaign to “restore Russian greatness”. From the loss of 298 innocents in the downing of MH17 to the systematic expulsion or elimination of any opposition to his administration, Putin has succeeded in starting a Second Cold War. Listen to me when I say that Crimea is only the beginning.
All of these choices are my own.