Elon Musk has spent his life, and certainly the past couple of years, battling the critics, and now he appears to be in a position to finally put them in their place. Musk has won the title of TIME’s 2021 Person of the Year, and there’s a lot of mixed opinions.
Elon Unbound was the theme for the year 2021. NASA awarded SpaceX the exclusive contract to land American astronauts on the moon for the first time since 1972 in April. Musk hosted Saturday Night Live in May. Hertz, the world’s largest automobile rental company, said in October that it would add 100,000 Teslas to its fleet, among many other notable news.
Many people are described as larger-than-life, yet only a few of them are deserving of the title. How many of us live to be 100 years old?
To Musk, his enormous wealth is merely a byproduct of his capacity to not only perceive, but also to accomplish things that others cannot, in areas where the stakes are life and death. “He was nurtured in a difficult situation and was born with a really exceptional intellect,” says Antonio Gracias, Musk’s longtime friend.
Readily painted as a conceited supervillain, lumped in with the tech bros and space playboys, for whom money is the ultimate toy and rockets are the ultimate scorekeeper, he’s not like the others. Elon is a manufacturing tycoon who moves metal rather than data.
His rockets, which were created from the ground up on the basis of an autodidact’s ground-breaking idea, have saved taxpayers billions, rekindled America’s space dreams, and are currently launching satellites to improve internet access throughout the world. If Tesla follows through on its promises, it has the ability to make a significant dent in global warming. Musk, who believes that technology can make anything possible, reminds everyone that anything is possible.
Musk symbolizes this transitory period, despite his outlier tendencies. He is the embodiment of unlimited possibility, our usher into a recreated world, where Earth and humanity can still be rescued. And perhaps no single individual should wield that much authority, but it seems like there’s no stopping him.
I don’t want to play the devil’s advocate, as I myself do not necessarily think that Musk is Earth’s savior. But it would be ignorant and unfounded of me to push aside all these accomplishments and not see the value in them. If anything makes us hopeful these days, it’s the knowledge that this planet is not all doom and gloom, and there is actually hope that we can put our trust in humanity and our achievements.
In related news, Elon Musk is creating humanoid Tesla bots.
Photo via Mark Mahaney for TIME