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In search of a role model

Published: 
Sunday, March 11, 2018

When the sociologist Robert Merton coined the term role model, he was referring to successful entertainers and athletes whom young people emulate.

However, not all celebrities may be exemplars in terms of behaviour. Thus, I define a role model as one in whom there is goodness and in whose life there is continuous improvement. In other words, one whose behaviour provides a blueprint for what is morally and socially aspirational. Historically, the onus to be a role model has been ascribed to the office of the President.

While the outgoing President may have accomplished some of what he set out to, there is little reported evidence that he has displayed behaviour which may be imitated. Some of the areas of apparent inadequacy have been highlighted in the Trinidad Guardian on January 22, 2018.

This article makes mention of the outgoing President’s reaction to the individual who made allegedly defamatory statements with regard to a member of his family. Was this an intelligent response? Delayed response, which is often not adopted by many who hold public office, had seemingly evaded the outgoing President.

Opting to engage a comedienne with warning and a pre-action protocol letter is not constituent of emotional intelligence. Careful and thorough analysis of when statements should be made and when silence should be chosen is necessary. Thus, the apparent absence of delayed response accompanied by no sign of introspection, might lead one to believe that continuous improvement is not being engaged.

Further, in the same Trinidad Guardian article, Rosemarie Sant wrote that Carmona’s Presidency was marred by reports that although he was living in accommodation provided for by the State he was also getting a $28,000 monthly allowance. The article also made mention of the purchase of wine bearing the President’s Crest and silence on monies paid for services.

A role model aims to have issues resolved which may require acknowledging flaws and errors and correcting them. In addition, a role model ought to address social ills and evils with practical and realistic principles. In an article published in the Trinidad Express on January 8, 2018, the President is quoted as having said, “We are spiritual beings, we believe in the power of God.

And as President I have always invoked the power of God publicly because I believe in miracles and through the power of prayer that this land of ours can be healed.” While this may purport to offer relief, it is an irrational thesis in addressing crime and violence. What we need are well thought-out, intelligently designed systems and procedures to address crime.

We are all free to believe what we wish but believing something does not make it an absolute truth. And one who occupies the highest office in the land should inspire, motivate, and encourage citizens to engage in self-understanding, an understanding of the world and the relationship between the two.

We need a President who will not subscribe to airy-fairy principles but focus on encouraging people to insightfully determine their future. In my opinion therefore, the outgoing President’s behaviour contradicts my definition of a role model.

Do we have a promising prospect? Perhaps we do. After receiving her instruments of election on January 29, 2018, in conversation with the media, the President-elect indicated that she will be open to the advice of the experts wherever needed, and that the issues of the place of young people and crime are her major concerns.

Thus, the country looks forward to the articulation and implementation of meaningful and necessary interventions toward this end. In addition, in an interview with the Trinidad Guardian, published on February 6, 2018, significant statements were made.

The President-elect indicated that attention should be placed on matters of importance rather than on the superficial. And that there should be equal treatment of all citizens no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation.

Thus, there is hope that in the not too distant future, our new President would have started to create an outcomes-based ethical outlook in the shaping and reshaping of the Trinidad and Tobago society.

Hence, we anticipate a President who will prove to be an exemplary officeholder and whose words and actions will provide evidence of goodness and continuous improvement.

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