• Reading Level 5
Science | Citizenship | PSHE

2020: Courage, passion and curiosity honoured

Is choosing “people of the year” a good idea? As The Day pauses for the holidays, we celebrate three inspiring individuals who each made an extraordinary impact on the world this year. The first patient to arrive raised no alarm bells - coughs are hardly uncommon in the winter months. But then another arrived, and another. They were struggling to breathe. Their temperatures dangerously high. And no matter how hard the medics tried, some of them were not getting any better. For one doctor at Wuhan Central Hospital, then warning signs were impossible to ignore. So Dr Li Wenliang took out his phone and cautioned his colleagues: they must wear protective equipment to avoid falling victim to this strange illness. Not everyone appreciated the advice: four days later, Dr Li was summoned to a meeting with local officials. They forced him to sign a letter, stamped with the red seal of the local police force, accusing him of "making false comments" that "severely disturbed the social order". But Dr Li's fears were not unfounded. On January 10th he started coughing. The next day he had a fever and two days later the doctor became yet another patient on the wards. As the virus spread around the globe, Dr Li defied the officials to send a final warning to the world, posting the letter onto WeiboOne of the most popular social networks in China, where platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are banned. from his hospital bed. The resulting anger forced the authorities to apologise, but it was too late for Dr Li: he died in the early hours of February 7th aged just 33. Dr Li is credited with ringing the first alarm bells about Covid-19, but he is not the only person to have hit the headlines for their bravery and resilience this year. For new congresswoman-elect Cori Bush, 2020 has been a momentous year. In November, the nurse and pastor became the first black woman ever elected to represent the state of Missouri in the US Congress. Bush's story actually started much earlier, in 2014, when police in Ferguson shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown and left his body in the street for four hours. Bush saw the photos online and was incensed. She drove to Ferguson and started protesting. She did not stop for 400 days - despite being teargassed - walking so much she wore down two pairs of shoes. The Black Lives Matter movement galvanised Bush to consider yet another career. She ran unsuccessfully for office twice, in 2016 and 2018. Then, in 2020, she had a breakthroughA sudden advance or successful discovery in science.. After her victory, she declared: "To all the counted outs, the forgotten abouts, the marginalised and the pushed asides. This is our moment." Across the Atlantic, teenager Mya-Rose Craig is also fighting for equality. But Craig is not a politician; she is a birdwatcher. The British Bangladeshi ornithologistAn expert in birds.  was only nine days old when she went on her first trip to see some herons. Since then, she has started a blog and set up Black2Nature, a charity introducing VME children to the natural world through camping trips. Now aged 18, the "Birdgirl" has not let lockdown slow her down. In 2020, she became the youngest Briton ever to be awarded an honorary doctorate, finished school, wrote a memoir and held the most northerly climate strike in the Arctic Circle. Is choosing "people of the year" a good idea? People power No, say some. Li, Bush and Craig may each have acted inspirationally this year, but the same can be said for hundreds of other people. In China, Dr Li was not the only medic to risk it all - seven of his colleagues were also detained. And it is impossible to quantify the impact any one individual has on the world; choosing only three people to receive praise and attention is deeply unfair. Yes, say others. After a difficult year, it is more important than ever to recognise those who have gone above and beyond what is expected to try to make the world a better place. By naming Li, Bush and Craig as "people of the year" we can celebrate their virtues and say thank you for their sacrifices. And choosing three individuals for recognition does not diminish the actions of others. KeywordsWeibo - One of the most popular social networks in China, where platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are banned.

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