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Global Super Heroes

By Catherine Wayland
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Q: What do you get when you put two politicians with two musicians and add a monk?

A: IF mag’s global superheroes. The list is:

Michele Bachelet – President of Chile
Dalai Lama – Tibetan Monk
Paul Simon – American musician
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Liberian President
Sami Yusuf – Azerbaijani-British musician

Michelle Bachelet

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On March, 2006, Michelle Bachelet became Chile's first woman president. Previously, she was minister of defense in Chile, the first woman in Chile or all of Latin America to serve as a minister of defense. Bachelet is a Socialist. While three other women have won presidential elections in the Americas (Janet Jagan of Guyana, Mireya Moscoso of Panama, and Violeta Chamorro of Nicaragua), Bachelet was the first to win a seat without first becoming known through a husband's prominence. (Isabel Peron was her husband's vice-president in Argentina and became president after his death.)

Michelle Bachelet was born in Santiago, Chile, on September 29, 1951. Her father, Alberto Bachelet, was an air force brigadier general who died after being tortured for his opposition to Augusto Pinoche's regime. Her mother, an archaeologist, was imprisoned in a torture center with Michelle in 1975. From 1975-1979 Michelle Bachelet was in exile with her mother in Australia and Germany, where she completed her education as a pediatrician. She studied military strategy at Chile's National Academy of Strategy and Policy and at the Inter-American Defense College in the United States. Michel Bachelet has three children and is separated from her husband.

Dalai Lama


The Three Commitments of Dalai Lama

Firstly, on the level of a human being, His Holiness’ first commitment is the promotion of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. All human beings are the same. We all want happiness and do not want suffering. Even people who do not believe in religion recognize the importance of these human values in making their life happier. His Holiness refers to these human values as secular ethics. He remains committed to talk about the importance of these human values and share them with everyone he meets.

Secondly, on the level of a religious practitioner, His Holiness’ second commitment is the promotion of religious harmony and understanding among the world’s major religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognize the value of each other’s respective traditions. As far as one truth, one religion is concerned, this is relevant on an individual level. However, for the community at large, several truths, several religions are necessary.

Thirdly, His Holiness is a Tibetan and carries the name of the ‘Dalai Lama’. Tibetans place their trust in him. Therefore, his third commitment is to the Tibetan issue. His Holiness has a responsibility to act as the free spokesperson of the Tibetans in their struggle for justice. As far as this third commitment is concerned, it will cease to exist once a mutually beneficial solution is reached between the Tibetans and Chinese.

However, His Holiness will carry on with the first two commitments till his last breath.

Paul Simon

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Paul Frederic Simon is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Simon is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, both as half of the folk-singing duo Simon and Garfunkel and as a solo artist. In 2006, Time magazine called one of “100 people who shape our world.”

In 1985, Simon lent his talents to USA for Africa and performed on the famine fundraising single “We are the World”. In 1986 he released the immensely popular “Graceland”, for which he won a Grammy. The album featured the groundbreaking use of African rhythms and performers such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In 1990, he followed up Graceland with the commercially successful and consistent successor album “The Rythmn of Saints”, which featured Brazilian musical themes. These albums helped to popularize world music as a genre.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

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The first woman ever elected head of an African state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in as the president of Liberia on 16 January 2006. Born and educated in Monrovia, she continued her studies in the United States in the 1960s. She studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder and obtained a masters degree from Harvard University, then returned to Liberia and served in the early 1970s as a finance minister for President William Tolbert. After Tolbert was deposed and executed, Sirleaf had an uneasy relationship with his successor, President Samuel K. Doe; to avoid detention, Sirleaf left Liberia and spent most of the '80s in Kenya and the United States as an executive in the international banking community. Called the "iron lady" of Liberian politics, "Ma" Sirleaf returned to Liberia and ran for Presidency against Taylor and after losing, fled again in order to prevent treason. She returned to Liberia after Taylor fled to Nigeria in 2003. As the standard bearer for the Unity Party, she ran again for the presidency in 2005, promising economic development and an end to corruption and civil war. Detractors criticized her earlier associations with Doe and Taylor, but she beat out George Weah in a run-off election in November of 2005, and was sworn in as president on 16 January 2006.

Sami Yusuf

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Sami Yusuf is an Iran born/U.K raised composer/singer/musician who was born in July 1980. He was born into a musical family, thus music played an integral part in his life.

Sami learnt to play several instruments at a very young age and gradually began to show a keen interest in singing and composing. He studied music at several institutions and with renowned composers and musicians including composers from the Royal Academy of Music in London, one of the world most prestigious music institutions.

Sami has been composing from a very young age and his beautiful voice is supplemented by his extensive knowledge of music theory and harmony. He has also a good understanding of the Middle Eastern modes (or Maqams).

Sami is also a devout practicing Muslim who sees songs as a means of promoting the message of Islam and encouraging the youth to be proud of their religion and identity.

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