Who is to teach morality?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2003

It’s been said that you can’t legislate morality. Moral values must be taught at home in the early stages and be an ongoing education.

Then came the question &045; if moral values aren’t taught at home, how will children learn them?

Then, in the minds of some, it became the job of churches and when they discovered that many of the same population not getting the moral lessons at home didn’t go to church either, it became the job of the school system to teach morals.

It was once understood that teachers and coaches would become the obvious role models and because of their behavior and high moral standards, the children they taught would learn from them.

Many teachers and coaches have set fine examples that have molded young men and women and facilitated their learning, good behavior and successful lives. (I know because I have been the beneficiary of such fine educators.)

Then there is the issue of what children and adults observe in society and especially on television.

There’s the age-old problem of children looking for morality via role models: actors and actresses, football coaches and athletes.

And while there are many who are truly outstanding examples, they are few and far between when it comes to the vast numbers of them.

It has been interesting to see and hear the number of famous people who quickly say that it is neither their job nor their responsibility to be role models, but to be athletes, coaches or actors.

Ironically, by virtue of their jobs, they are role models whether they like it or not. The question is not if they want to be role models, but what kind of role model will they be?

Positive or negative?

Take the lives of many professional athletes and actors who have millions and millions of dollars and all the fame and fortune this world can provide, yet still they choose to be negative role models and feel absolutely no obligation to set a good example for those who look up to them.

Yet those young, impressionable minds have made them what they are through all the commercialization and marketing techniques their business managers have used: posters, tennis shoes, jerseys, games, movies, music videos and much more.

In our state, a certain college football coach was just fired because of his &uot;inappropriate behavior.&uot;

Even with fame, enormous fortune and the job opportunity of a lifetime, he still could not, or would not, control his behavior &045; he would not take advantage of an opportunity to be a good role model.

The privilege of coaching a team that many coaches would give their entire careers to coach just because of its legacy

wasn’t enough.

Just for the record, I make mistakes every single day and I repent and ask for God’s forgiveness several times a day.

However, with tongue in cheek, let me tell you that for a multi-million dollar contract plus all types of benefits, perks, fame and fortune &045; I could become the closest thing to a saint as humanly possible.

And I would be a good role model to boot and teach outstanding family values at no extra charge.

It’s true what they say, you can’t legislate morality, and obviously you can’t buy it or hire it either.

There is obviously no price or position in this world that can purchase morality, family values or guarantee positive role models as a result.

We can only hope that more people have them, display them and teach them than not.

Alabama State Auditor Beth Chapman is a columnist for the Shelby County Reporter. She and her husband, James, and two sons, Taylor and Thatcher, live in North Shelby County