August 3rd 2008 14:23
If we had to judge our every action by the fact it might inspire immitation, we would be in a state of constant self censorship.
Tupac once said ‘I refuse to be a role model’. Then he got shot. (Or in the other order if you feel like indulging a conspiracy.)
Joke; A kid walks into a room where her dad has just knocked over the chair. She says, “What the bloody hell was that”. And her dad stares at her and says, “Where the bloody hell did you learn to speak like that?”
Brett Easton Ellis wrote the novel ‘American Psycho’, featuring several gruesome sequences of elaborate murder. He was shocked when he discovered a murderer had copied some of these scenes.
Charles Manson’s murders were inspired by the Beatles White Album, most explicitly the song Helter Skelter.
The Murder of John Lennon was committed by a man who was inspired by the novel Catcher in the Rye.
The point (oh yes dear readers, if you squint hard enough, as usual, there is one) is that our actions are a constant inspiration to others. Sometimes, the nature of this inspiration is impossible to determine. However we are, each of us, in some way a role model.
Current drinking government campaigns are reflective of this. The message is that ‘kids adsorb your drinking.’
Football codes also have the role of sportspersons as role models written into their very fabric. Wendell Sailor discovered this on a very personal level when he was prohibited from playing for a period for cocaine use.
For whom are we living our lives; for ourselves or others? To what extent can we accept that the negative choices we make are going to inspire similar choices in others (perhaps, !!!, children) and to what point do we live a less ideal lifestyle in order to have a more positive influence on those around us? If we can accept ‘negative behaviour’ for ourselves (eg, drinking, sexual promiscuity, misuse of public property, rudeness et al) then what makes it so unacceptable when others do it?
Finally, provided we believe in a live and let live philosophy; doesn’t this mean attempting to control and make examples of others is inherently bad role modelling?
image by Simon Davidson under a creative commons attribution license,