Daniel B. Kline: Real role models hard to come byPublished 11:00am Thursday, September 10, 2009
You can immediately discount actors, anyone appearing on a reality show, all rock stars except maybe Bono and anyone famous for no discernible reason.
Of course, it’s nice to say that he should look up to me, and I’m sure he will, but they don’t make posters of me, write articles about me in the newspaper (at least very often) or put my face on television.
Hero worship is an important part of growing up, but today’s would-be heroes seem poised to let you down.
My childhood heroes had at best a mixed success rate.
Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan never quite won the Super Bowl, but he also never got arrested or involved in any sort of scandal.
The same cannot be said of the professional wrestlers whose careers I followed as an elementary school kid.
Most of them are either dead, ravaged by steroid use or sadly appearing in high school gymnasiums as poster children for why saving your money is important.
I want my son to put his favorite Red Sox or Patriot (no, he’s not getting a choice on teams) player on his wall without me wondering when that player will let him down.
I’m not talking about Alex Rodriguez striking out in every key situation style letdowns, I’m talking about Alex Rodriguez cheating by taking steroids letdowns.
Athletes at least end up in their positions because of their skill in a particular sport.
Nothing about being a sports star requires or even implies that you would be a good person.
If you can hit the ball or throw a pass, it apparently hardly matters if you take illegal drugs or kill dogs for fun.
Politicians, however, should theoretically live up to some standard of behavior.
While kids don’t put posters of their senators or mayor on the wall, they should be able to look to their elected officials as role models.
Unfortunately, in these post-Monica Lewinsky days where even Republicans get embroiled in sex scandals, the political news can read like a seedy romance novel.
Instead of towering figures of virtue holding many of our highest offices we have a collection of crooks, adulterers, thieves and swindlers.
Some of these reprobates may very well be good office-holders (we’ll miss you, Ted Kennedy) but they are hardly role models for our kids.
When you live in an era where even Bill Cosby cheated on his wife, it’s hard to imagine any famous person not being guilty of something.
Maybe Oprah has a basement full of dead hobos.
Perhaps Sting robs convenience stores when he’s not saving the rain forest and is it so hard to imagine Bill Gates clubbing baby seals just to blow off some steam?
Right now, my son’s room contains Star Wars trilogy posters featuring Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and a much lesser hero, Lando Calrissian.
These heroes might be fictional, but they are not likely to end up on the front page of the newspaper for having a car full of cocaine or a hotel room full of prostitutes.
Daniel B. Kline’s work appears in more than 100 papers weekly.
When he is not writing, Kline serves as general manager of Time Machine Hobby, New England’s largest hobby and toy store, www.timemachinehobby.com.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can see his archive at DBKline.com or befriend him at facebook.com/dankline.