In conversation recently with a 33 year old relative, I mentioned Marcus Welby. Andy did not recognize the name at all. If you don’t either, let me explain that Marcus Welby was the fictional physician in the TV series, “Marcus Welby, MD,” from 1969 to 1976. He was about 60 years old, handsome, wise, skilled, compassionate, and caring, pretty much the perfect doctor. He was the Walter Cronkite of TV doctor-land. This led to a discussion of the availability of role models to successive generations of Americans.
Before the advent of our current information age, that is, before about 1980, it was apparently easier to look up to certain public figures. Their foibles were not as widely publicized (e.g., President Roosevelt), and many of us were more willing to assume the best about them. Today, privacy is no match for a citizenry armed with the internet (including internet-ready smartphones) and the replacement of innocence with cynicism by age 8.
Marcus Welby, Walter Cronkite, even Bill Cosby (remember “The Cosby Show”?), were trusted and loved for their apparent honesty, intelligence, reliability, commitment to excellence, and humanity. Objects of our trust and respect now are overwhelmingly actors (who speak words written by others), athletes, politicians currently in power, and highly successful entrepreneurs.
I have every confidence that the world, including your circle of friends, is just as full of outstanding individuals as ever. So why do popular culture and general public awareness seem to have difficulty providing well rounded examples of good character to our youth as role models? I think we are poorer because of this trend.
I encourage you to ask a handy 20-35 year old to name a public figure whom they consider a role model. I would be very interested to hear what they say. I look forward to your feedback.
“My passion is ensuring that every adult is mentally ready to succeed in all transitions that comprise the adult years. The meaning in my life comes from helping my patients see themselves, their situation, their future, and the entire world with new eyes and a newly courageous attitude.
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