The Disappearance of Role Models

June 6, 2020 by Charlie Hedges − 4 Comments

… the present generation, the youth of today—and it is the younger generation that we would most likely find idealism and enthusiasm—no longer has any role models.” Viktor Frankl, Yes to Life

I read Frankl’s quote and found his observation quite evident in the world today. What is most disturbing is that he wrote that statement in 1946, immediately after being freed from a German concentration camp in 1945. Viktor was writing about a post Hitler Germany for which he rued the paucity of admirable individuals that might inspire a bewildered nation of youths to lead a country emerging from uncivilized despair.

However, I feel as if Viktor Frankl scribed that quote yesterday, because I frequently wrestle with the questions of, “Where are our leaders?” Where are the people to inspire my 27-year-old son and his wife regarding how to administrate an honorable personal and private life? Such leaders are most certainly not among the vocal minority of political leaders in public life today.


First of all, even the best of those who might be potential role models today make mistakes. Sometimes, terrible mistakes. But, is it not from mistakes that we learn to change and become admirable role models? And yet, today, in our inculpatory press, potential leaders are demonized for past mistakes… over and over again. The result is that no one wants to run for office when their entire past is subject to public scrutiny. JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr. would never have survived such exposition today, yet together they are of the most socially impacting individuals in the 20th Century.

So who remains as role models for our youth, when our leadership fails us?

Elders or Old People

Perhaps time has come for our elders to not just grow old but to actually become Elders—ones with the kinds of moral and character qualities that might inspire our youth to hope and good needs. I fear that too many of us are growing old, encamped in personal and detrimental thinking. Too many wanna be elders unfortunately have become stuck in often uniformed opinions, self-centeredness, and self-protection.

Let me make it clear that I write this post to myself. If I am not the kind of role model to my son and his wife can aspire to emulate then whom shall it be?

In thinking through this issue I realize that my role is NOT to tell my son what to believe or what to think about any given issue. My role is to model for him HOW to think, not WHAT to think. In addition, and perhaps even more important, is for me to model love, kindness, compassion, an openness to the beliefs and lives of others I may currently disagree with… or more, those I don’t understand because our life experiences are so different.

It’s Up to Us

So, when I ask the question whatever became of role models, I must respond with Here I Am… and with God’s help I shall do my best.

We Need Role Models

Who Is Up for the Task?

Photo courtesy of AlexLinch at istockphoto

4 thoughts on “The Disappearance of Role Models”

  1. Good reflection. We are all role models to those around us. Sometimes we may have blinders on or judgements based on the role they have played. Carter, Clinton, Busch, and OBama are all doing amazing work through servanthood to humanity but most of which will never be accepted or seen as a role model either because of political view or past behavior. Do we want role models who hide imperfections to be perfect or those who are willing share their journey of overcoming struggles. The key is that we do not let cultural or religious doctrine define role models but rather the personal journey (carrying our cross) through humanity with their higher source Your struggle with and overcoming personal struggles to transform and serve is being a healthy role model. Those who want blinders to personal imperfections will not accept.

    1. Holy cow, Joe. I certainly could not have said it any better. Thank you for the feedback, bro.

  2. You may not even answer back as you never have in the past. But I have been saying that same thing to the ER Class of 67 since the reunion in 2017. The youth need reenergized Elders walking the Path not just giving lip service nor platitudes nor their opinions. But Real Living Examples of Living Gods Live as they did in the 1st Century and as Yawshua’ did. You say it can’t be done? Nonsense! Lets talk & explore this topic. From The Dumb Donkey!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Next Chapter Podcast
Living a life of meaning Living a life with adventure Living a life with awe