Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Role Models

Leaders are a dime a dozen. At some point we have given too much "power" to those who truly aren't worthy of it. One of my major problems in our society today is that we have too many damn leaders. We are a world of leaders and followers. Politicians, preachers, athletes, spokespersons of every sort, giving examples to our kids of how to live our lives. In an ADHD world we can pick choose and refuse the leaders and role models we want in our lives. Turn the channel... there's another one!!!

I will say this. Some potential role models have made it easy for us. Charles Barkley (former NBA suerstar) always said that he didn't want to be a role model for kids. Thanks Charles, you're not. Added to that list is reigning superstar Lebron James. His sulk act on the weekend, upon losing to the Orlando Magic, has ensured that even greatness has its limits. In a reprisal of Isaiah Thomas Pistons ducking out early when the Bulls had dethroned them back in 1990, the man-child Lebron took his toys and went home. No congrats, no good luck, just a sulk. You have made a serious error LBJ. Ask Michael.

So as with most athletes, celebrities and the like, it is best to admire them for their prowess and talent, but leave the hero worship alone. Our kids who idolize these arrogant and highly overpaid "stars" are learning nothing here. Failure to act properly will not grant you favour in the eyes of scrutinizing parents! We seek people with a bit more... substance (and not substance abuse AROD). In times where our kids are more involved and have more distractions, it is almost impossible to find someone who fits the ideal leader, someone we can comfortably call a role model.

Bermuda is awash in violence, gangs seeking vengeance against each other and now people are afraid, scared of what is happening behind our backs. What does our child think? Who do they admire? What should we do? Who is leading my child? We struggle to find answers. Teachers, politicians, church and social leaders are certainly attempting to do their part. With parents working longer hours to make ends meet, and the end of the school year approaching we will have more kids looking for leaders in all the wrong places. 

Let's back track two weeks. Let's look at the "gang-land" murders. The victim slain was 27 years old. This was no child. This was a man of age, who was seemingly involved in a gang. How many people that age are actually involved in gangs? Aren't these "men" supposed to be the ones our adolescent youth look up to? Who are the leaders? Who are the role models. Our society has a serious disconnect. Years of "peter pan" syndrome has run rampant in Bermuda. Boys afraid to grow up. Boys not becoming men. It is a serious disease... and the beat goes on.

For far too long we have sought to make leaders, role models out of people who have not asked for such a burden and as such we should not be giving it to them. Too many young men find themselves  victims of drugs, alcohol, and violence. Too many boys are having children. Unmarried and unemployed, they seek refuge on the streets and when the going gets tough... people die. 

So where are the leaders? Where are the role models? Who should our kids seek when the going gets tough? When do we accept that our system is broken, and God does not save lives at 2:45 on a Friday afternoon. It's time for a gut-check. It's time for a plan. We need to empower our youth to lead productive lives and show them that there are viable alternatives to the ways of the streets. It requires work, cooperation and patience.

Last but not least, this isn't a black problem or a white problem... its a Bermudian problem. 

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