Role Models

Posted: October 6, 2007 in Compassion, Discrimination, Homelessness, Morality

Human beings are strange creatures. We often times allow our loyalties to be seriously misplaced. We will stand by someone simply because they have fame and fortune, while shunning those who have nothing.

Case in point…

When I turned on the television yesterday evening to watch the news, the lead story was about U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Marion Jones.  

In the late 90’s, she was America’s Golden Girl. She was idolized and became a role model for tens of thousands of young girls all around the world. Many parents encouraged their daughters to grow up and be "just like Marion."

Yesterday however, while standing in front of a New York courthouse, Ms. Jones admitted that she had "not told the truth" to Federal investigators about her use of performance enhancing steroids during the time she was competing in the Olympics.

Throughout her Olympic career, she kept denying the use of steroids claiming that was she had been using was flax seed oil. Of course, now that she’s pled guilty to it, we know better.

There are people all across this nation who were "disappointed" by what they heard. And there were probably just as many who are going to still give her support" through the "hard times" she will have to endure in the near future. They will make excuses for her behavior, saying that the "stress" of competing and the desire to win were the causes for her making the "wrong" choices. Even the news anchors avoided using the words: lying and cheating. But that’s what Ms. Jones did – she lied and she cheated.

Contrast that with an archived news story from July of 2006 that I came across several weeks ago. The article about a 59 year old homeless man in Detroit, Michigan. He had lost his job at a roofing company in Ohio and decided to move back to Michigan to see if he could find a job.

While going through a dumpster looking for recyclables he came across 31 U.S. Savings Bonds worth a total of some $21,000. A miniature gold mine for a homeless person. While that amount wouldn’t have left him on easy street it certainly would have bought him enough time to try and get his life back on track.

This man didn’t take those savings bonds and try to cash them in however. What he did was turn them in to one of the workers at the homeless shelter where he was a client. The shelter worker was able to track down the owners of the savings bonds, who gave the homeless man a reward of $100.

The community decided that $100 wasn’t enough of a reward for his honesty – especially since as a homeless person, his need for funds was clearly apparent. So the community began to rally and donations began pouring in – not to mention one or two leads for employment.

So my questions for you today is this:

Which of the two – Ms. Jones or this homeless gentleman – exemplifies the type of moral values and character you would like your children to emulate? A liar and cheat, or an honest man?

Which do you think was the best role model?

What to read the article about this homeless gentleman? Click here.

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