Most of what we do in this lifetime isn’t for ourselves. We like to believe it is, but we aren’t that selfish. We want to live well so that others see us for our capability and that we can survive with dignity. Few people leave everything and go to the mountains and even they manage to set an example by going off the grid. You have to do it in style. If you’re walking on a different path you have to commit to it for it to work in your favour.
Setting an example was never my cup of tea. I don’t even know where the concept came from. Who thought it was a good idea to make other humans their examples on how to lead a good life? Is that even something to strive for? “Be a good role model,” isn’t advice anybody should hear. We try so hard to mould ourselves into the shape of others, literally and metaphorically.
We think we need to leave something for future generations to look up to. All we are obligated to leave them are resources that they can survive on, like a clean planet, water, oxygen and nature. We are not obligated to leave them thresholds to surpass. We are stuck in this cycle of setting higher standards, only making it harder and harder.
I know this is very millennial of me, to say. But do we really need more examples? Also, are our examples stellar? Even those who are considered brilliant have a side to them we don’t know. We don’t need new role models who are more human and have flaws, I’m saying we don’t need role models at all. Don’t ask children to look up to adults who are just trying to exist in this world. Ask them who they think a human should be and let them strive for their imagination without the fantasies.
We don’t need to put that kind of pressure on ourselves either, those of us who’ve just become adults, those of us who’ve had our crystal role models shatter before us as we realised their flaws, their mistakes and their reality through our own realities. I still know people who’ve made it their mission to leave a mark on this planet, I applaud their courage. I for one just want to make it out of here with all my limbs intact.
Maybe in my case, I was let down by human beings so many times that I didn’t believe in role models or the future. Leaving something for the next generation is like writing your name on a foggy glass which disappears as the glass clears. It doesn’t matter. The future generations will figure it out, just like we did, they may curse us for leaving a mess that they had to clean up, but they’ll manage.
As I see people worried about the future, about it not being great, I think to myself, we should strive to make as less of a mess we can now. We pretend to care. When we spill some water or burn petrol we’re not too concerned, but suddenly when it comes to the world we wonder why others don’t care enough, why do our role models let us down? It’s convenient, and it’s also because at the back of our heads we know we aren’t doing too well in that department either.
The natural reaction in these situations is to hope it becomes someone else’s problem instead of getting rid of it once and for all. If we can leave behind anything, it should be less pressure, less to live up to, fewer expectations. We should leave behind a vote of confidence, a pat on the back and acceptance. Let’s not leave our messy ego politics and grudges for them to partake in.