Athletes and actors:
Are they best role models?
Los Angeles Lakers' star Kobe Bryant signed a multimillion-dollar endorsement deal with Nike in June. He already had endorsement contracts with McDonald's, Spalding, and Sprite.
Now that Bryant has been charged with sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman, he's probably more concerned about losing his endorsements than spending time in jail. He admitted he was guilty of adultery with the woman but insists it was consentual.
Will all be forgiven if Bryant is found innocent? Will his reputation be tarnished or will the public wink at his sexual exploits? Bryant has had a fairly "clean" public image, but who knows what happened behind closed doors.
Priorities out of whack. Priorities are all out of whack in our society today. We hold up professional athletes and movie stars as role models for young people. Kids want to "be like Mike." Looking good and making lots of money seem to be the epitome of success.
But what happens when an athlete gets injured? How about when an actor grows older and loses his sex appeal? And what if an athlete or actor gets sick, becomes depressed or addicted to alcohol or drugs?
We've heard sad stories about athletes and actors who've fallen from favor and have plunged into the depths of despair. Sometimes these people started out as decent people but got sucked into the system. Marilyn Monroe comes to mind, but there are many other tragic cases.
Most of today's heroes are not people we would like our children or grandchildren to emulate. But how do we get them to realize that there are much better role models?
Sharing stories of saints. One way to start is by sharing stories of holy people of the past and present. There are some great books available today about the lives of the saints. I was particularly impressed with Patrons and Protectors: Occupations by Michael O'Neill McGrath (Archdiocese of Chicago). It has drawings of saints as they would appear today. For example, St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, was pictured at a computer. We have many modern-day heroes and saints, from Archbishop Oscar Romero to Mother Teresa to Pope John Paul II.
Reading the article on this page from Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer, diocesan director of the Propagation of the Faith, I couldn't help but contrast the $700 a year needed to educate a seminarian in mission countries with the millions paid to our athletes and movie stars. We get some momentary satisfaction watching a sporting event or a movie, but a priest helps prepare us for ever-lasting life.
Readjust priorities. We should look at our own lives. Who are our heroes? What do we value most? If necessary, we need to readjust our own priorities and put Jesus and our faith first. As a concrete start, send some money to the Propagation of the Faith, the Diocese of Madison, or other church organization for the education of future priests and religious. They need our support.
If we have children or grandchildren, talk with them about some of those saints -- past and present -- who are better role models. Or tell our kids about how important our faith is to us personally.
We can't put all the blame on Kobe Bryant or other athletes and actors. If we agree that our society is out of kilter, we need to take responsibility to put it right.
Mary C. Uhler, editor
Here's what Jesus would do
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To the editor:
What's all this wondering about what Jesus would do if he were here and the action he would take with the situations in Afghan, Iraq, Iran and other tough issues?
No, I know he wouldn't bomb the hell out of them. He wouldn't kill their old men, women, and children. I know he wouldn't declare war on anyone. But, I do believe "I know what he'd do" if he were to walk the earth today.
Here's what I believe he'd do.
He too was surrounded by violence, war, sex, idolatry etc. He would pray, fast, and find 12 men and/or women and teach them the message of his peace. There's no reason to speculate or even bring up such things as a violent appearance.
That's what he did and I believe that's what he'd do in 2003. Doesn't that make sense?
Donald J. Eckert, Janesville
Need local control in Midwest
To the editor:
It seems just like old times, i.e., the 1980's or so. Actually, things didn't change much in the meantime. One challenge to local control after another drizzles in from Washington, D.C. Congress and regulators continue to do one thing after another not in the best interest of the northern Middle West, be it the many layers of policy which shortchange dairy farmers in the region to the usual threats from the Department of Transportation.
Take the milk-pricing saga. The north central states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North Dakota get it even worse than the rest of the country. The playing field isn't level and the growing involvement of the federal government actually makes it worse.
Why does this have to be the case, when this part of the country has demonstrated time and time again over the last 100 years and more that we have done a very good job of solving problems at the local and state level? Very often we have led the way for the rest of the country on economics and governance issues.
Maybe it's time that we had a political movement that stood for local control, fairness, and regional co-operation and consciousness. We could work with all political parties to secure this agenda, which most assuredly works for all of us in this part of the country.
Philip John Schumacher, Stoughton