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 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

Role Models

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry

OKÖ..so I missed the deadline for getting a column out about ChristmasÖ.Iím not perfect. So, sue meÖ.Itís just as well since I really didnít have anything new to say about the holiday. Perhaps itís the economy, but Iíve noticed a severe shortage of Christmas cards this year, as well as cars with real trees tied down on top. The cards I can understand, it may be that more people are mad at me this year and just arenít sending out any cards. Of course my loving wife should have gotten some by now, nobody can be mad at her.

Itís just as well that I donít have the time to send you a little holiday cheer since Iím not finished writing about topics that I think we need to discuss. I still have four or five items of importance (at least in my mind) for the rest of the year and only a couple of weeks left before the new year arrives. Iíll have to hurry.

This week Iíd like to talk about role models. Now, before we get all wound up over Tiger Woods and his problems, letís step back and consider a few things. First off, why is it in this country we seem to place so much emphasis on the conduct of celebrities? These happen to be ordinary people with sometimes extraordinary talents, but still they are humans and have human faults. Just because someone is successful at some sport or profession does not automatically make them into a flawless super human being capable of being everything to everyone.

Certainly what Mr. Woods did or does tends to change our opinion of him. However I guess my question is thisÖdid we set our expectations too high for him or look too distant for a role model? By role model I am referring to someone we admire or whose activities and principles our kids would want to emulate. By Woodís activities being Ďtoo distantí Iím meaning that Woods or other celebrities or leaders are not in the range of our everyday relationships. Itís fine for someone to become president or make it big in business, but how close can most of us get to that person and is the person we read about or see on television the real person?

Perhaps so, perhaps not.

The media has long been known to gloss over and cover up flaws in famous people. President Roosevelt was crippled by polio yet it wasnít widely reported in the news. I could list many more along these lines, but the point is simply this: The role models we need to follow (in my humble opinion) are the ones closest to us. Next door to us, across the street, in our churches and in our own homes. The teachers in our schools, firemen, doctors, police officers and last but certainly not leastÖ ourselves. We need to be the role models for our kids, our family as well as ourselves. We need to live lives that are examples to others, not look to some superstar living on the other side of the world who may have a dark side which is never seen.

Being a role model for someone is hard work and requires a commitment to strive to do the proper and correct things in our everyday life. Someone once told me that your character is determined by what you do when no one else can see you. The famous people we read about in the news or other media outlets are just thatÖ.people. No different from you and me. They may have money and fame, but do they have character?

If money was the benchmark for character, why do so many wealthy people seem to have so many divorces or substance abuse issues? No, character is built from the inside out, not the other way around. In order for role models to be established and maintained in our society, they must start with ourselves and those we can communicate with in our circle of relationships. What I do as a human being has an effect upon you as do your actions upon me. We need to keep this in mind as we go into another year and always remember there is someone out there, both young and old who is probably counting on us to point the way for them to succeed in their lives. We cannot nor should not choose to ignore this awesome responsibility.

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America - December 23, 2009 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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