Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ISO: a role model

This morning I went to the gym and as I was running along on the treadmill I was staring up at the bank of televisions mounted from the ceiling. Each turned to a different station but all of them carrying the Arnold Schwarzenegger story on a endless loop. Occasionally they would take a break to report the latest on Dominique Strauss-Kahn. And suddenly despite my endorphin generating workout I felt depressed.

I realize that it is the job of the news media to provide us with entertaining and juicy stories. No one wants to watch a news clip about the man who gave the pregnant woman his seat on the metro. But I feel like every time you turn on the news it is stories about some public figure who has done something illegal. Or unethical. Or immoral. Or all three. So this is not a diatribe against the media. As far as I am concerned they are just doing their job and providing people with the content they want. I don't want to live in a nanny state where our media content is dictated by strict guidelines of someone's idea of what is appropriate and inappropriate. If you don't like it don't watch. No, instead this is me questioning public figures in general. And I am wondering, are there any role models left for our children? Or for us for that matter?

I am not saying that prior to this scandal I endeavored to be like Arnold. But regardless of your politics or how you judge his performance as the an actor, or the governor of California, he does have a certain appeal. He is (was?) the American Dream personified. Immigrant comes to this country, works hard, becomes successful, marries a beautiful and smart woman and raises an adorable family. But then he has to go and screw it all up. And while undoubtedly Maria is the biggest loser in this mess I can't help but feel a tiny bit betrayed myself.

The more I reflected on this the more I started to realize that my issue is not with those who make bad decisions per se. There are plenty of bad decisions that I make on a daily basis, some of them greater than others. We all make mistakes. Often times it is those mistakes that make us grow and mature. Become better people. So I am not wagging my finger at the dot com entrepreneur whose company went under and lots of people lost their jobs. An example of bad business judgement? Absolutely. But assuming there isn't any malfeasance he could still be considered a role model for following his dream.

My husband and I endeavor to the best of our abilities to act as strong and positive role models for our kids. They also have lots of wonderful role models in our families and in our community. But they are getting older and more easily influenced by what they see on television and read in the paper and on the internet. And despite our best efforts it is the images of our public figures that they will be bombarded with. Is it so wrong to expect that these people conduct their lives in a manner that justifies the adulation they receive?

So I took the rest of my workout to think really really really hard and finally came up with a name. Kara Goucher. So there is one.

I would love to hear from readers of this post - who are your public figure role models? People you aspire to emulate. I don't care if they are actors, politicians, captains of industry, philanthropists, authors, sports stars or talk show hosts. They just have to be in the public eye and have conducted themselves in a moral and ethical way. So please comment on this blog, or send me an email at happyhourmama@gmail.com. I need to have my faith restored. And Kara, please don't let me down.


  1. yipes - no one comes quickly to mind. I'll have to think about whether there is someone who I really think has done good. I know people who are prominent in my own life but I can't easily think of someone in the public eye. Please share the list when you get some responses! One person I do look up to, although I've never really looked up to people in "the eye" of the media, is Suze Orman. Don't know much about her personal life but she does good work!

  2. Tiger Woods. Beloved athlete and inspiration to--oops, scratch that. Well, how about a woman astronaut? Someone like Lisa Nowak who has had to work hard and-- okay maybe not her. Umm, how about the highest-paid TV actor, someone like Charlie Sheen who has struggled for years to stay sober and be a positive role model for--yikes!

    This is harder than it looks. Am I allowed to say Kate Middleton? Pretty and smart? Hopefully good morals?

    Looking forward to seeing the rest of the list. (And Megan, I had Suze Orman on a flight when I was a flight attendant-- she was very nice and seemed genuine!)