Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Role Models

I’m looking for a role model or two. What? You think I’m too old for role models? Nah. Says here you’re never too old to have someone whose behavior is an example for you. Someone who handles similar stuff you run into on a daily basis, maybe on a bigger or more public platform, but similar enough. They’re kinda hard to find, role models, especially if you want them to have at least a passing resemblance to your own demographics. Age, gender, marital status…stuff like that.

I’m writing this on Easter Sunday, the holiest day in the Christian year. As Christians we “celebrate” the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate expression of altruism in the “history” of mankind. Men and women are tasked with following Christ as the ultimate role model for how we are to live our lives.┬áIf one does, indeed, believe, and if one does follow Him as the role model in one’s life, then all other talk of role models is irrelevant. Like so many other goals and targets, though, Jesus as role model is ultimately unachievable by any and all, and thus we have the all too human phenomenon of other, human role models.

What then constitutes a role model? Who is qualified to fill this role? Who would be willing to do so? How do we find these people, these role models? How would you choose one for yourself? Whether or not they’d be willing, whether or not they’d even view themselves as role models are decent questions to put on the table, too. Anybody come to mind?

Mine is Denzel Washington. The guy just has his life dialed in. Stable marriage and family. Handling both wealth AND fame. I’m doing my best to channel my inner Denzel.

In a world that was much less heterogenous, where people of all stripes had more in common than not and acknowledged that fact, role models seemed to be a little easier to come by. Audie Murphy. Stan Musial. Jackie Robinson. Heck, even a politician or two filled the bill. Every town had a teacher or a coach or a cop who everyone looked up to. Why then and not now? Partly because of that sense that we were all more the same than less, but partly because we only knew the good stuff about our role models, and on top of that we only really wanted to know the good stuff, ya know?

If you have some dirt on Denzel DON’T TELL ME!

Once upon a time to be a role model meant to be always trying to do the right thing for the right person at the right time. We forgave the occasional slip because we saw the effort and appreciated the ongoing effort. It inspired us to do better ourselves. We forgave the occasional failure because we knew how hard it is to always look to do that favor, to offer the helping hand, to put forth the best effort. Our sense of our own humanity was extended to our role models as a gift to them such that they would continue to be an example, to lead us.

The perceived lack of role models in society today says more about us than it does about any role models that we may have discarded. We accentuate our differences rather than our commonalities, no matter how far on either end of the curve lie those differences. We not only accept too much information about our all too human potential role models, we actively seek the “smoking gun” that will bury them. We are all the lesser for all of that, for we deny ourselves the potential that could come from having a role model just a little bit better than ourselves.

In the end the only perfect role model continues to set an unachievable goal, however noble might be our effort.

 

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