The definition of “role model” is a person whose behaviour generally serves as an example and is emulated by others.
A person. Not a persona.
And therein lies the problem with exalted pop sensations and sport stars. Most often the public is only privy to the product of an expertly, manipulated media machine and not the whole person.
The most profound role models don’t exist on screens but within the community. Political leaders, activists, teachers, coaches, people who are striving to leave behind a better world than the one they are living in – these are real people, complete with flaws.
It’s time that we unplugged, clicked out and turned off the constant barrage of media and stepped into our communities, talked with each other and learned about each other’s lives. The veils of perfection need to come down and honesty and truth need to replace the insecurities that all too often cumber our youth prey for the media.
Role models should be real people who stumble, make mistakes, have regrets but learn to be better from these missteps. I echo Nathalie’s sentiments from yesterday’s post that role models begin in the family and this quote from Barack Obama (June 2008) although speaking about the absence of fathers in communities, reiterates the value of meaningful familial connections.
“Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.”
Our children shouldn’t need to look to celebrities for role models. They should simply be free to admire creativity and skill without seeking direction of how to live a purposeful, mindful, and generous life.
Cartoon credit: Kiki & Tea