At some point in our lives, we all look up to someone or aspire to be like someone in order to give us hope, motivation, moral standards and even to help unleash the potential each and every one of us has. That person could be one or both of your parents, a friend, a teacher, a coach, a religious figure (such as The Pope or Mother Teresa), a celebrity, etc. Maybe your role model is a character like Yoda from ‘Star Wars’ or Professor Xavier in ‘X-MEN’ or Batman? Someone does not have to be alive or dead or fictional or non-fictional to inspire change and good in this world. It is the messages that are conveyed and the change in others resulting from those messages along with the legacy being left behind when we die that will determine how we will go down in history.
My first major role models growing up were my parents. They taught me the difference between right and wrong, the importance of treating others (especially siblings) how I want to be treated and that they are my number one allies through thick and thin. Their caring and selfless nature has rubbed off on me as I constantly volunteer to help people and put others before myself. From them, I learned the value of hard work and determination and why pulling my weight is essential in a household. Further education has also been a priority in my family which enabled me to go to college, get an advanced degree and become a licensed professional. Good manners and hospitality have also been passed from generation to generation in my family and are a sign of respect towards others that I carry with me to this day. I’m very grateful that my parents set such a wonderful example and foundation to raise me to be the person that I am today.
As for my fictional role models, I have had many over the years, but the one that I have followed the longest and to this day would have to be Batman. From a very young age, I remember seeing the 1989 movie starring Michael Keaton at a drive-in theater in Illinois as well as watching the 1960s TV series featuring Adam West and seeing those ‘POW!!!’ and ‘OOOOF!!!’ images across the screen during fight scenes. I really admired the Batsuit, the Batmobile and the many gadgets The Caped Crusader used when fighting the bad guys. I observed how the citizens of Gotham along with the city police looked up to Batman and respected him and the part he played in the ongoing battle against crime. In addition, he encouraged people to follow the rules rather than engage in criminal or deceptive behavior. The example he set inspired me to obey the rules which strengthened my moral fiber and integrity.
As I got older, not only did I discover that being a vigilante was not only frowned upon but also illegal, I shifted my focus more towards the development of Bruce Wayne and what he had to go through personally, physically, psychologically and emotionally from the time he lost both of his parents to his transformation into The Dark Knight. Like me and my family, Bruce Wayne also valued knowledge and his intellect and ingenuity would be his greatest assets in his journey. He traveled the world to gain an understanding of criminals and trained his mind, body and spirit in order to fight injustice and give criminals a run for their money. Like Bruce, I also hope to travel the world one day (including Antarctica), but not to learn about criminals and how to fight them. While Bruce Wayne had a lot of money at his disposal, he did not have any superpowers or supernatural talents. This is one of the main reasons why I and many others around the world believe in Batman and what he stands for: you don’t need superpowers to be a hero and mind over muscle can win the fight. If you have the willpower, the discipline and the determination to see your endeavors through, you can succeed in anything you put your mind to. This is how Bruce Wayne became The World’s Greatest Detective.
I often think about and model Batman as I go about my day. For instance, Batman knows what is in his utility belt at all times. I know what is contained in my inventory at any given moment (wallet, keys, phone, etc. and their contents). In training, Bruce Wayne pushes himself harder and longer in order to face and defeat his enemies as Batman. I do a few more reps and/or add a little extra weight when working out to challenge myself as a little change in the short-term can have a big effect in the long-term. Batman devotes himself to an ideal and a cause greater than himself. I see that one person can make a difference and participate in organizations to serve humanity and make the world a better place. Finally, and most valuable of all, Batman does not use a gun or kill people. Why? Because the person that took his parents’ lives used a gun to kill them. I will not use a gun or kill someone (especially out of anger or revenge) on account of it would not make me any better than the person on the receiving end. It is compassion and forgiveness of those that do us wrong that will make us better than them.
As much as I would like to have others share in the same high levels of integrity and morality as me, unfortunately, this is only an ongoing uphill battle and I cannot make other people’s decisions for them. They are the ones that will choose whether or not they do the right thing when the situation calls for it. I will talk more about that in my next blog on relationships…