Where have all the role models gone? In the past, they could be found ubiquitously. Now, it seems that one looks in vain for those men and women living lives emblematic of the highest and most noble virtues. Politicians walk among the magnificent edifices of government and speak of the highest ideals of American democracy. In their dignified dress and manner, they must be role models. No! How often is the citizenry witness to their blind, self-serving, ideological rants exhibiting all that is base and vulgar? Perhaps, the adored heroes of the world of sports hold high the banner of the role model? No! Their lives reveal arrogance, hedonism, and numerous displays of moral depravity. Certainly the clergy will fill the bill of being role models. Regrettably not! Sexual abuse, financial misappropriation, and other spurious behaviors unbefitting their vocations too often occur. In truth, much in Western culture defies the presence of the role model. Cervantes writes in Don Quixote: "Folly is wont to have more followers and comrades than discretion." Where does one look?
One, however, must pause. The wide brushstroke of condemnation may be applied too hastily to these institutions as well as upon the culture. Albeit each criticism is not without merit, there are a great majority of very fine persons laboring for the good. This army of righteous people, working daily to serve God and others, reassures the masses and gives a sincere feeling of confidence that all is not lost.
The sense of honor is so fine and delicate a nature, that it is only to be met within minds which are naturally noble, or in such as have been cultivated by good examples, or a refined education.
– Joseph Addison
The task at hand is to develop in an increasing number of people a constant awareness of the differences between good and evil and how to discern that difference in the myriad offerings of daily life. In my opinion, it is in the context of Christian moral teaching that the definition of good and evil is found. In the person of Jesus Christ, the Word of God was not only made visible, but also understood. The Book of Ecclesiastes consuls that, "In wisdom there is much grief." To possess wisdom is to know humanity in its brightness and its darkness, its glory and its shame. Remaining "unwise" is a far easier path to walk, but a road that leads to a dead end. God does not intend that anyone should be lost to him. To live in Christ is to live in love – in justice, in compassion, in righteousness – toward one another. When the Lord says, "Follow me," the call is to make a person's mode of life one that manifests the Spirit of God active in the motivations of human activity and evident in the product of such activity.
Confronted with the lingering question about the whereabouts of the role model, the answer is at the core of every man and woman. The Great Role Model once walked the earth and was crucified for the sins of mankind. He then led the way to the victory over sin and death and the joy of eternal life in his love. His will was to fashion other role models who, in spite of their human frailties, would continue the saving work of God. Where is a role model to be found? Look in the mirror – it is you.