Heroes And Role Models…
Todays show is a listener inspired episode from a woman in Colorado named Theryn. Yes…we do have females in the listening audience! More and more all the time from what I understand.
Theryn asked a question about male role models…or heroes. Because she didn’t have any good role models growing up she used men on the TV shows she watched as her example of manhood and masculinity. Her question is in regard to what my opinion is of using fictional, cinematic figures as role models for masculinity, and if I had any growing up.
First I would like to thank Theryn for her question and thanks also for listening, and thanks for the question. If theryn can do it, you can do it. Be like Theryn!
The next thing I want to address about this is that to some people it may seem odd that a female is asking a question about male role models…but it isn’t odd at all, and I applaud Theryn for asking. Females need good male role models just as much as guys do. Perhaps for slightly different reasons…but think about it. If a young girl doesn’t have a good male role model, then she has no idea of what to expect, or what to look for, or what to like or dislike about the other half of the population.
A woman’s perception of masculinity becomes critical as she gets older and starts choosing male friends, and it gets even more critical as she starts dating and possibly choosing who will become the father of her children. If she has gown up with no male role models whatsoever then she is going into all that completely blind, and being forced to learn from her mistakes. You can imagine what kind of chaos this can result in.
Equally devastating, is when a young girl has a bad male role model, and that’s all she has. I’ve seen this happen several times; a girl is raised by a mean, uncaring, distant, altered, or abusive father and to her young mind…that’s how men are supposed to be. Often times girls in this situation grow up and ultimately choose someone just like their dad, because that is what they are used to, that is their comfort zone…and, the cycle continues.
In our example today I believe Theryn did exactly the right thing…in the absence of a good male role model she focused on fictional characters from movies and TV to help her learn the difference between good and bad men. By comparing these men to other men in TV and movies she was able to identify those character traits she admired.
Now, let me be clear…in the absence of any other positive role models I think this is the next best course of action…but there can be downsides.
In her letter she mentioned Jean Luc Picard from star trek the next generation…I agree, he is a fine role model of character and masculinity. BUT, he is a fictional character and someone wrote him that way. He is almost infallible, and if a person does not keep that in perspective you could wind up getting disappointed out in the real world because it’s difficult if not impossible for a real life human man to measure up to someone that was invented by a writer. But, as long as you keep in mind the fact that they are fictional characters then I encourage both men and women to admire them and learn what you can from them.
When I was growing up I was blessed to have my actual father as a role model, and a hero. He is still the best man I have ever known. However, I still had my share of fictional and non-fictional heroes.
When I was a boy I read The Odyssey and was captivated by the hero Odysseus. Then there was Pappy Boyington played by Robert Conrad in the TV show Baa Baa Black Sheep. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and of course…James Tiberius Kirk from the original Star Trek, and several others.
They were all quite different characters with different strengths and some of them had qualities my dad didn’t have, but ultimately they served to validate and solidify many of the virtues I saw in my father like honesty, bravery, confidence, wisdom, toughness, rationality, controlled anger, a sense of justice and yes…compassion and understanding when it was called for.
I’m thankful for all these characters, they helped me become who I am as a man. But I was fortunate to have my real life father to check and weigh things against.
So, I think a real life human role model is the best thing wether he’s your father, a neighbor or an uncle or whatever. But in the absence of a human…fictional role models are the next best thing, as long as you remember they are fictional.
I think having heroes is incredibly important. In the application for the Mantoring program where I become a mentor for men who want to make changes…one of the questions is “who were your heroes”. It’s an important question because you can tell a lot about a person by who their heroes are…just as much as by who their enemies are. I am surprised by the number of men who don’t know how to answer that question. They didn’t have any heroes to speak of. I think that’s kind of sad, and it makes me wonder what happened that caused young boys to grow up never having a hero.
I believe we as a species were designed to have heroes, because in the ancient lore from every corner of the world tales of heroes have been told for centuries. The ancients used heroes to captivate the imagination of people, to quicken their pulse…and then as an example for people to hopefully follow.
Thanks again to Theryn for asking the question, I hope I answered it. Now, to wrap it all up, Role models and heroes are slightly different things, but they are equally important to both males and females. A hero and role model can also be both things in the same person.
For you listening who didn’t have a good role model growing up, you had a harder road to travel, but if you are listening to this show you must have done alright.
The biggest thing I want everyone to take away from this episode is that every single one of you have an opportunity. Wether you had heroes or not…wether you had a good role model or not, you now have an opportunity to become someone else’ hero, you can be someone else’ role model. Because someone is always watching, and if they are watching you be a better man today than you were yesterday you have just become an example for that person wether you realize it or not. That’s how it works.
Remember to check us out on Facebook. That is also where you can order the Being A Better Man tee shirt and help get the word out.
It’s Friday, so have a great weekend. Become a role model for someone simply by being a better man today than you were yesterday.