It is not uncommon to hear athletes, movie stars, and famous musicians opine their disagreement concerning their role model status. Charles Barkley may have put it best when he purportedly said,
“I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”
There is an important truth to acknowledge in Barkley’s statement (a statement that gets recycled, reformed, and freshly expressed in every generation). It is true that any parent who would allow their kids to emulate or be exposed to a person who is morally bankrupt (I am speaking in general terms here; I do not know the moral status of Charles Barkley) is foolish. It isn’t Charles Barkley’s fault (or Miley Cyrus’s, or Justin Bieber’s, or Ariana Grande’s or Alex Rodriguez’s, etceteraahh, etceteraahhh) if parent’s are foolish and negligent and themselves morally bankrupt. However, this does not let him or anyone of us off the hook.
Every person is an example of how one can live his or her life. What we do in public (and in private for that matter) represents who we really are! Only arrogance and moral ignorance would sincerely ask and expect people to compartmentalize their behavior and idolize them for their talents but make no comment on their corruption. We are all influencing those who come to an awareness of our choices and we are models available for emulation.
Perhaps what Barkley and the rest are really saying is, “Thank you for the money and the privilege but I don’t care if you or your children go to hell (either figuratively or literally). Give me money and I promise to entertain you, but don’t expect me to care if I see you lying bleeding in the alley.”
Forgetting the debate about a person’s privacy, what is done in public is fair game to be recorded, repeated, criticized, or imitated. And like it or not, our children, teenagers, and young adults are influenced by what they observe. And while it is a parent’s responsibility to protect and to lead their children, those in the public arena should care whether they are someone who endangers or edifies those who are following their examples.
ONE LAST THOUGHT: In our culture it seems that we send the message that perhaps it is not good for children to see certain things. We devise rating systems based on what is appropriate for children, teens, those who are seventeen and older, etc. But our ratings seem to imply that, as adults, we reach an age where everything is OK. But, barring some isolated examples, if it is not good for a young persons morals to observe bad behavior, it’s also not good for adults!
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