Crisis shines a light on what’s important

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
There’s one thing about a crisis — it helps get things back into perspective and gets you thinking about what’s important in life, writes parenting columnist Ian Munro.

It may be a personal crisis such as redundancy, a death, a significant health issue. Or it may be a microscopic virus that brings human civilisation to its knees.

If we look at who’s working all the hours there are to set up systems to save as many lives as possible, guess what — it’s not the mega-paid "role models" and "heroes" who kick balls around, sail multimillion-dollar yachts, sing or perform to keep us entertained.

No, it’s the much lowlier, even very poorly reimbursed "essential workers" doing the hard yards, and in whose hands we are dependent for getting through this.

They range from our nimble political leaders with consistent messaging, our medical professionals and scientists and our public servants developing systems on the run, to all those working from home or out and about tirelessly making these systems work in order to keep us protected, supplied, fed, reassured and alive.

Our youngsters are constantly bombarded with PR campaigns designed to manipulate their decisions about who to choose as role models, and we hear a lot from sports people and so-called celebrities who see themselves in that role.

In fact, it seems that anyone who makes a major sports team is to be seen as a role model and hero, regardless of which pub they got thrown out of, which person they assaulted, or how much they sold their loyalty for.

That’s not to say that some of these people aren’t good role models. Every generation has had its Ed Hillary, Peter Snell or Peter Blake; people whose success was in a field of endeavour that appealed to the children of their generation.

We also see the way they perform as individuals on and off the sports field, the way they treat others and the causes they promote — but again remember that much of this is still highly-planned PR.

We are our youngsters’ first and most important role model.

All the other role models our youngsters choose will either confirm or dilute our example, so our role, as a parent in this era of professional role models, is to look carefully at what’s on offer and who is attracting their admiration.

And what a great time to draw their attention to the quiet, hardworking, often self-effacing people who are working tirelessly and, in many countries, at great personal risk to end this pandemic.

If these are the sort of people we would like our youngsters to aspire to be like or who display behaviour, attitudes and values we would like them to emulate, then now is a great time to do some introductions.

 - Ian Munro

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