Thursday, April 28, 2005

Take a bow, Yao Ming...

According to a story in today's LA Times, the ruling Communist Party named Yao Ming a model worker for this years May Day celebration. Yao Ming plays as center for the Houston Rockets. This is certainly far removed from Iron Man Wang, an oil field worker who was hailed as a hero to his country in 1960.

Iron Man Wang, Government Propaganda Poster

"It's absurd," Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociologist at People's University in Beijing, said of Yao's award. "Model workers should be ordinary people you can look up to and imitate. Yao Ming is an NBA star. That's honor enough. Besides, what he does, it's impossible for ordinary people to imitate."
Whether Yao Ming is the right man for the Communist Party's exemplar I cannot say. However, this brings to mind something that has concerned me for some time. The people we choose to be our heroes have changed over the years. Not so many years ago when you asked a child who his hero might be, the answer would most likely be an astronaut or, maybe even closer to home, a policeman or fireman. Today's children are far more likely to pick a sports or music star as their role model. Although many of today’s sports stars are good people, the lives they lead aren’t those to which ordinary people might aspire. Honestly, I want the world for my daughters but I’d rather they didn’t follow in the footsteps of most of today’s pop culture icons.

I wonder, what has changed that has caused the world's focus to move from those who are good examples of honest, hard work and/or learning to those who have been successful winning life's popularity contests.
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