The Scarcity of Role Models

Sulaiman B. Sowa
Makeni, Sierra Leone
When I was growing up in the second capital city of Bo, there was always time to finger point people with marked personalities, they were virtually in abundance and the luxury of seeing them leading sanctified lives was worthy of admiration. These were days when we all got inspired by the things money can’t buy and our value for material things was low on the priority scale. I still consider myself lucky to have witnessed of period of abundance and scarcity on the marginal scale of role models.

Then religion singularly injected the values of morality in every facet of society, homes were incomplete without religious doctrines, schools thought of religious and moral education, religious leaders were looked upon as divined intermediaries and were respected beyond their robes and regalia. Marital vows and problems were taken and settled in religious houses respectively, society saw infidelity as a crime equaling banishment, prayer was the centerpiece of all that we did and heaven was every one's dream.

So who do we call a “A ROLE MODEL” ? Simply put, it is someone whose behavior and bearing is characterized by marked positive features and differences that leaves a pathway for others. These are people whose humanity far supersedes material urges, they are people who believe in the “WE” rather than the “I”. Their physical presence does not always meet the much acclaimed qualities that characterize their personality, but they inspire and do not settle for praises. They prefer to be the examples of their beliefs, they will say the truth as naked as it would seem and they are what the world needs to thrive in peace and prosperity.

The era of the millennium ushered in a new belief, one that is characterized by a change marked by an incessant urge for the “Best”! Technology improved greatly to the detriment of our moral well being, things that we once saw as sacred became sensational, our value for material things became inflated to unaccommodating levels and the “Self” appealed to our moral consciousness - thus all we aspired for was  personal gratification. No one really cared about societal values, people began losing the moral strength to resist wrong doing and youthful exuberance became exaggerated! The old wanted to become young and so do the young wish for the opposite. The moral barometer was now determinant on how much wealth one has, not by the moral content of the person and our aspirations were then set to get rich anyhow; this was the birth of several social vices.

In the ensuing cacodemonic period, morality became wanting and role models scarce! A generation that was in dire need of direction became lost and lust in the sensations of guilty pleasures. Those we once called role models were now the perpetrators of social vices - we meet them at surprising places, in bizarre acts and unforgivable ventures. The concept of a role model changed completely, our praises for them was consequent on and inspired by money. Our respect for them was overly required and in superlatives, we no longer respected age because the number did not match the virtues of wisdom that comes with it. The young and the old became engulfed in a war of dominance for vain pleasures, people’s moral bearing relegated to such questionable levels that they never sought for direction and help in times of crises.

In a society were suspicion is a lens of skepticism, moral values are lost, role models are almost non existing. Today, one can objectively count very few as role models, I know we all have the prerogative of setting standards for who are role models are; but on a generic outlook, we have very few. Of late, our value systems have been misplaced and rendered as a survival option, people are self imposed role models these days, using the cloak of extravagance as a role model quality. It is more like a personality starvation; an illusion that strikes comical relief, role models don’t expect praises, they just inspire and as a result this brings the accolades. 

It’s unfortunate that we could always be apprehensive to ourselves and suspicious about people no matter whether they stand, whether it is for the truth or not. But this is what happens when a society loses confidence in the older generation; one that is expected to inspire, direct, motivate and lead them from temptation and not into damnation! In the search for role models we need people who can stand selflessly for nothing but the truth. Those who know the cleavage between good and bad, whose lives can be celebrated as a guide towards moral glorification and justification. If you want to be a role model, please model your life on the virtues of honesty, truth, thrift and Godliness. Perhaps I am right or wrong, but these are just reflections of a young man.

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