Role models come from anywhere

By Daniel J. Bauer

Willie Nelson and his colleagues in the entertainment industry have sung songs about cowboys for many years. One of those songs I especially like contains the verse, “My heroes have always been cowboys.” That line brings to mind some advice Willie offers in still another song: “Mamas, don’t let your children grow up to be cowboys.”

Those simple words drop a big fat hint about the importance of role models in life. The China Post ran an article last week about health issues affecting the 300 or so generals that serve our country in the military. A recent report by the military’s Medical Affairs Bureau (MAB) revealed that obesity lies at the base of many medical problems facing our most senior officers. The article threw all sorts of scary medical jargon at us. We got hit by terms like high Body Mass Index, hyperlipidemia, hyperuricemia, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (CP 10-8-13 p. 15). Boy, that last one sure sounds bad. “Thank heavens I’m not a general,” I said to myself. “Otherwise, I might be a high risk candidate for a horrid disease I can’t even spell.” Now, the article did eventually turn more positive in tone. It encouraged generals, and presumably all of us in our 50s and 60s, to stay active jogging, swimming and so on. A legislator responded to this health-related news on our senior military by chastising the generals. The reporter behind the article paraphrased her remarks: “It is ironic that military generals, who are supposed to be the role models for soldiers … [have] failed to keep in good shape.” Well, I thought then, now we have more yet to ponder here. It isn’t enough to take responsibility for our health, to stay as fit as we can, and all that jazz. It’s important as well to consider our positions in life and how our actions may influence others. Willie had his cowboys, but I am willing to bet we’ve all got someone of our own, someone we call heroes or, well, role models. When I was a boy, cowboys were cool in my imagination, and I liked them well enough, but baseball stars were closer to home. The names of the Detroit Tigers were household names for me.