Sometimes I think that one of the principal reasons that we find role models in the news for the wrong reasons is that these role models do not think of themselves as role models. And perhaps they only wake up to realize that they are role models after their names appear in the news because of unacceptable behavior. If the behavior is a minor issue then perhaps not too many people will remember that incident after a few weeks and the role model can continue on unscathed. However, it is ultimately the public who decides whether something is a major or minor issue – based on the public’s perception of morality. If the behavior is a major issue in the public’s view then that role model could be in for a rocky road into the future.
Some recent examples:
Why would a national politician yield to the temptation of inappropriate behavior, especially when it can be easily discovered by the public? If he did not think he was a role model before, he certainly knows it now. And the public and his peers apparently think that this inappropriate behavior is a major issue from a morality standpoint. So the person was being called upon by members of his party to resign his well-respected, well-paid job or find himself ineffective in the job because respect for him had been lost. Today he resigned. All that hard work for years – climbing the political ladder – down the drain in a few short days!
Why would a sports figure fresh off a major championship victory drink too much afterward to the extent that he was arrested? Did he not realize that, if nothing else, being a part of the winning team made him a role model? He hopefully now realizes, the hard way, that he has arrived at role model status. Will that hurt his future? If he never has a repeat incident then perhaps this one incident will go away from public memory. But there is no way to know for sure until next season when he appears before the fans again.
If you are a role model, whether your are religious or not, there is a simple rule of life that God gave to us – “Honor your father and your mother…” (Fifth Commandment -Bible, Exodus chapter 20). Any time you are tempted, ask yourself, “Would this honor my father and mother?” And the other nine commandments are also very good guides for life. So if you are a friend of a role model, an agent for a role model, a peer of a role model, or anyone with an influence on a role model, let’s all try to help stop role models from self destruction. The public deserves and needs role models who practice morality 24/7/365.