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Good role models are humble, inspiring, honorable

In fifth grade my class was given the task of writing an essay describing our role models. Most people wrote about their parents. I wrote about Jackie Robinson.

In our lessons on what makes a role model, I don’t remember any distinction between good or bad role models – just role models.

Recently, I have noticed that it seems that the term “role model” is used synonymously for the term good role model. We can often forget that there are good and bad role models, not just role models.

In preparing for this week’s column, I found that I am even guilty of only considering the adjective of good when discussing who should and should not be a role model.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a role model as “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.”

By this definition a role model could be almost anyone, whether they display virtuous characteristics or not. By this definition, it makes perfect sense that our culture would make celebrities into automatic role models.

Our culture is enamored with celebrities. And why shouldn’t we be? They seem to have it all: money, fame, and immunity from the law. I can see the appeal in imitating them to gain these things in life.

But are they really “good” role models? Do they even want to be role models at all?

A few weeks ago, a petition was started on the White House’s website to have Justin Bieber deported. One reason for deportation the author cited is that Bieber is a poor role model for America’s youth.

I completely agree that Bieber is a horrible role model, as are most celebrities. He is cocky, immature and an alleged drug addict. However, instead of deporting Bieber for being a lost soul, maybe we should examine who we place our moral aspirations in.

Someone who is successful should not automatically be placed on a pedestal. They should be a good example on multiple levels, not merely on their celebrity standing.

For example, a friend and I got into a discussion concerning Kanye West. Apparently, some people claim West to be a great role model for America’s youth. West is considered by many to have a successful music career, which he rose to from humble beginnings in Chicago. Thus, the argument can be made that he is a good role model because of his success and how he got there.

However, West is a megalomaniacal, pompous jerk. He is rude and once said his biggest regret is that he can never see himself perform live. This alone removes him from the pool of amazing people in this world that I would want to look up to.

While he has the ability to overcome obstacles, West does not have many other characteristics that good role models should have.

A good role model should be someone who is selfless, often putting others before themselves. A good role model should recognize the struggles against the injustices of all people and help in whatever way possible.

A good role model should strive to make the world they live in a better place. A good role model should be able to admit their mistakes and truly make amends for them.

Most importantly, a good role model should have the passion and desire to inspire people. If someone doesn’t have the desire to be a good role model, they will only think of themselves when acting. They won’t consider the small girl looking up at them on their television screen.

Miley Cyrus has made it painfully clear that she has no interest in being a good role model for the scores of children who looked up to her as Hannah Montana. Yet, we scold her at each piece of dropped clothing for ruining our children’s minds.

However, I think our focus should not be on those celebrities who we have thrown this great responsibility on. We should be focusing on ourselves. We should be living better lives so that the next generation has more desire to aspire to be like us then like those on the television screen.

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