Imagine growing up in the 21st century. You are growing up in a time period where it is acceptable for pop stars to “twerk” on national television. It’s widespread practice for hip-hop artists to make music that contains no real message. Even professional athletes, people who supposedly devote their lives to self-improvement and a healthy lifestyle, are often convicted of crimes. Meanwhile, teachers, people who supposedly deliver the facts and just the facts, sometimes have biased opinions that are intended to get you to see their points of view. The media also tries to instill a certain viewpoint, usually one that is easy to agree with. While all of this is going on, you have to try and focus on “the important things” : schoolwork, family, religion, and basically anything else that is expected of you by your “superiors”. Yet, you can’t really care about anything because giving a damn is just not “cool” in the eyes of your peers. ITS NOT EASY BEING A KID IN THE 21STCENTURY!
You have a slew of information coming at you, you don’t know what to do with it, and it’s hard to find a way to navigate through this hullabaloo without totally losing every sense of who you are and what your purpose is. Now, more than ever, our kids need role models. I mean, apart from their parents. Kids need to look at successful individuals that made a difference and think “This is how I want to live my life.” And these role models, in most cases, can’t be found on MTV or ESPN. They can be found in history books and classical literature. The role models discussed here aren’t all “perfect individuals”. Nobody is. However, they are people that were able to live a commendable lifestyle and make a difference in society despite any faults they had.
1. Abraham Lincoln
Honest Abe served his two term presidency during one of America’s darkest times – the Civil War.
He was the man that pledged not to rest until slavery was eliminated and the union was back together. Lincoln helped America emerge from this difficult conflict stronger than ever. Ultimately, he gave his life for the cause that he believed in. Lincoln teaches kids that they should always stand up for their beliefs, no matter who opposes them. Lincoln’s beliefs literally caused half a country to separate, but he stood firm. Lincoln’s story shows that the right thing to do isn’t always the easy thing to do, or the most popular thing to do. But if one believes something is the right thing to do, they should stop at nothing to achieve it.
2. Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. His efforts as commander of the Apollo 11 lunar lander earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1978 and he remains a fantastic role model to this date. Armstrong displayed unparalleled bravery and resolve throughout his life. At age 18, he was in the Navy and fought in the Korean War. He was then a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base before joining NASA. As the first man to walk on the moon, Armstrong had no idea what to expect. He was travelling into the complete unknown and still displayed great bravery and confidence. He steered Apollo 11 onto the moon and made the first steps on its alien surface.
3. Gabby Douglas
Gabby Douglas, the flying squirrel, is a gymnast who participated in the 2012 London Olympics. Before Gabby, no African-American gymnast had become all-around champion. Gabby is a role model because she refused to let the past get in her way. She knew that she was fighting color barriers and history, and she was not fazed. Civil rights leaders are often thought of as having a way with words and having powerful personas. However, Gabby had a different approach. She inspires with her actions and her performance in sports. She lets herself go on the gymnastic mat and doesn’t worry about anything except perfecting her routine. Gabby shows kids and teenagers that they should always stay true to their goals and dreams, no matter who or what gets in the way.
Human beings are the only species (as far as we know) capable of imitation. If they see something they like, they will emulate it. We see this happening all the time. There is a reason that people wear jerseys of their favorite players or listen to popular music. This phenomenon is evident in kids more than anyone. Children often adopt the values and ideas they grow up with for their whole lives. And, while parents try their best to instill positive ideas and solid moral values, the media and children’s peers are trying their best to instill negative ideas. At times like these, it is important for them to be introduces to new people, role models that can show them the light at the end of the tunnel. The 3 mentioned here are not the only ones capable of doing this. However, it is important that there are role models in kids’ lives other than parents. There is a saying that goes “Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” Now, more than ever, it is important to give your kids something great to imitate.