‘Be ye an example’

Bill Miles

Some folks call it ‘role model’. Most say “Be an example”. Holy Scripture challenges readers to cultivate traits of goodness, charity and mercy. So, why shouldn’t we begin a new decade by appealing to a better nature? Perhaps individually one can reflect on someone or several from whom we find admirable qualities to emulate. Frequently we see on TV sports stars reflecting on how they have patterned their performance on heroes from earlier achievement. “I looked up to him when I was playing peewee football,” one might say. Occasionally we hear a person honor achievers in other fields such as business or politics or religion. Parents appeal to their youngsters to be honorable, truthful, successful, and a bunch of other words even including humility. What do we see from public figures as 2019 exits into history? I’m scared to give my commentary because if I write how I really feel, I’m pretty certain some will disregard all of the above qualities and show a side I don’t think they’d appreciate having grandchildren read about a quarter century from now. I’m aware of public images that don’t reveal a true picture of purported ‘role models’. And some seem to relish the outrageous with a mean spirited attitude of disrupting, tearing down, humiliating and lambasting. Are there other words? Surely we don’t want to prop up such figures. Our culture has long existed on “Do better as we learn better”. We probably would belong to the ‘Barbarians’ of history otherwise. I guess they would be examples of taking what you want and satisfying personal lusts. Styles vary but setting an example for those around you seems to be appropriate. I have never been a ‘Tom Sawyer’ who could exploit others to do my chores and pay me to do them. I’ve always tried to work as hard, as long and as productive as any of my associates. Of course, I’m sure that description is in the eye of the beholder. Our first president, George Washington, was cast (fictionally or factually) as having a truthful reputation. Remember when confronted about the cutting down of the family’s cherry tree, he is immortalized by having told his father, “I cannot tell a lie”. And he accepted responsibility. Abraham Lincoln is pictured in history as “Honest Abe” and I really don’t recall ever reading or hearing of an incident that founded that image. Yet, he seems to have the character of someone with whom you’d like to do business. President John F. Kennedys stirred patriotism by challenging our nation’s imagination in his inaugural speech with “Ask not what your country can do for you but what can you do for your country.” I know plenty who fudge on their income taxes as if our country does not need law abiding taxpayers. Some even say “you’re a sucker if you abide by the rules.” I was chosen by the U. S. Department of Justice under a Law Enforcement Administration Grant in the mid-1960s to lead in creating a manual to be used to improve the image of police officers. A cartoon by the late Van Bristow illustrated what not to do. An overweight badge wearing, pistol toting caricature depicts a cop sitting on a restaurant stool spewing cuss words while a youngster nearby observes. As the adage goes, no sermon is stronger preached than the one seen by others in the way we live. .

If you would like to contact Bill Miles you can email him at bill.t.miles@gmail.com

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