Do We Still Have Role Models?

My heart bleeds when I hear all kinds of news about the eccentric behaviour of people who are expected to be role models in society. Well, I have to be very cautious when commenting on moral issues. This is because morality is a controversial subject.

No wonder philosophers including Socrates, Plato, Kant, Hume, etc used different philosophical methods including logic and critical thinking to explain it.

For now, I do not think it is prudent to engage ourselves in any endless philosophical arguments. What is important, I believe, is to simply see morality in the light of the principles of good behavior. In other words, distinguishing between what is right or wrong, fair or unfair, responsible or irresponsible.

As humans, we are expected to live by the norms of the society in which we live otherwise we would be considered as deviants. However, beyond going by the norms of the society, some people have excelled and distinguished themselves in their fields of endeavor, thereby becoming worthy of emulation. In other words, they have become role models.

I had a friend who always told me that he would never like to be a teacher. In fact, he gave reasons why he was not interested in the teaching profession. However, his decision changed dramatically later. During our second year in the university, we had a very good lecturer. He never missed lectures. His teaching methods were excellent. During our revision week [prior to our end of year examinations] he revised with us all that he taught in the semester and told us the possible areas that his examination questions might come from. He was very patient and had time for everybody. In fact, he was not only our lecturer but also our father. Guess what! At the end of our second year, my friend told me:“Sammy, I’ll teach after school; I want to be like this lecturer” True to my friend’s word, he is currently a professional teacher. What do you think brought the change in my friend’s decision? –The diligence and commitment of the lecturer! Can such a testimony be given about many teachers/lecturers today?

I listened to a discussion programme on one of the Accra-based radio stations last week. The topic discussed was quite controversial and highly political. Considering the different political backgrounds of the panelists, one would have expected the discussion to go along certain political lines. However, one of the panelists demonstrated that he was indeed a decent and objective politician. He articulated his views objectively without fear or favour. I would not be surprised to hear that his opinion on the topic discussed incurred the wrath of his own political party members. But the truth is that he called a spade a spade. In fact, that was not the first time I ever listened to that particular man on radio. His contributions and responses to issues were always devoid of insults. Such a person could be regarded as a model as far as politics is concerned.

Last year, a friend invited me to his church for a valedictory service. The occasion was in honour of their pastor who was transferred to another station after serving their church for five years. As I listened to the tributes that poured in, it was obvious that the church members would really miss their pastor. According to them, the pastor knew most of the members’ residence and visited them regularly. He was dedicated to his work, very caring and he was always ready to help anyone who was in need. Significantly, the town folks, some of whom were not even members of the church, were there in their numbers to grace the occasion. There were testimonies all over about the pastor’s moral uprightness throughout his stay in the town .In fact the youth in particular regarded him as their role model. Is it not sad that instead of us hearing such testimonies about men of God, some of them indulge in all kinds of shameful things thereby bringing Christianity into disrepute?

Realizing how determined one of my cousins was to join the Ghana Police Service, I decided to probe to find out his reason(s). Apparently, he just admired the way a particular police man, who directed traffic near his school did his work. The policeman’s uniform was always neat and he did his work diligently. In fact, the way he beckoned vehicles and pedestrians stylishly with smiles could make you stop by to watch him for hours. The truth is that the policeman’s attitude to work has made a significant impact on my cousin’s life as far as his choice of profession was concerned.

Most times, one is not too much surprised to hear some kind of news about some people. It is, however, embarrassing and disappointing when somebody you trust so much, who in fact is a role model does or says something that you never expected him/her to do or say. During my secondary school days, any time our senior housemaster mentioned the names of some particular four boys at either “assembly” or “dining”, we were sure that they were caught in town without permission. In fact their names were synonymous to “all kinds of offences”. Everybody knew them to be bad. One day, after our morning devotion, our senior housemaster asked a gentleman to come forward and face us (the student body). Knowing how respectful and law abiding the guy was, we thought the senior housemaster was going to commend him for something good that he had done. Then “bang!” The bomb was released. He was caught together with a form one girl in an obscure corner at night “doing their own things”. Immediately the senior housemaster finished narrating the incident we all said “ooh!” in astonishment. In fact, if it were any of those naughty four boys, we would not have been surprised. But we were shocked because the gentleman in question commanded so much respect in the school.

The kind of news that we hear these days about respectable people in society are too shameful to recount. As politicians, academicians, religious leaders, musicians, artisans, chiefs, etc, we should remember that much is expected of us.

Those who have distinguished themselves in their fields of endeavour should remember that they are role models. They should therefore be very careful about whatever they say or do. Of course, to err is human. We could not pretend to be infallible. But knowing that we are being emulated by others, we should be conscious of our actions.