In the spirit of these debates, let's examine one recent list.
A few weeks ago, Time Magazine announced its 2013 "100 most influential people in the world."
To their credit, the roster -- selected by a combination of public voting and their editorial staff -- present us with a diverse set of people. They're selected from five categories ("titans," "leaders," "pioneers," "artists" and "icons"). Some have worldwide fame. Others are known primarily within their own fields. The vast majority have used their influence for good. A few for evil. They range in age from 15 (Malala Yousafzi, the Pakistani education activist) to 76 (Pope Francis). Most are new to the list (only 17 have been on the list from past years). Certainly all yield great influence.
But we think they have made two huge omissions, so in the spirit of debate (and with apologies for bending the rules we propose two additions.
Number 1 (with a nod to this month's Father's Day) on our list are those who raise America's 74 million children. It's the parents, grandparents, foster parents, uncles, aunts, and siblings who spend their days and nights giving our children unconditional love, teaching them right from wrong, and making sure they are safe in a world that can be hostile and dangerous. Particular kudos to those who care for the youngest and most vulnerable. They know the truth to the Jesuit maxim of "Give me a child for his first seven years and I will give you the man."
Number 2 on our list are the more than 7 million teachers who teach our nation's 81 million students. It's these full- and part-time professional people who influence the world by providing the tools to understand and succeed in an increasingly complicated and unstable world. Their work creates the foundation for all of our success and for all our social equity. We often criticize them. We seldom support them. We almost never thank them.
In case you're wondering whether Time Magazine has a list of the most influential of the decade, the answer is "yes." It was created in a 32 person "face-off" single elimination format and open to public voting. In the final, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese political activist, narrowly defeated Lady Gaga.
Budig is past president/chancellor of three major state universities (Illinois State University, West Virginia University, and the University of Kansas). Heaps is a former vice president of the College Board in New York City.