Nelson Mandela is a leader and role model whose inspiring and positive legacy continues to live on. Not only did he change the lives of many South Africans, but he also changed the perspectives of millions around the world. Indeed, in South Africa, even adolescents are in awe of how Mandela impacted the world during the apartheid. They respect him, admire him, and many even dream to positively change the world in some way like him.
This kind of public, widespread acknowledgment of incredible role models is a sentiment that I wish many people would have around the world. I wish that we adults and adolescents could fully accept and showcase our appreciation for the great people who are trying to positively change the world for the better instead of only appreciating individuals who are adding to the negativity already present in the world.
What I greatly admire about South Africa and even Egypt (when I briefly traveled there) was that people truly encouraged and embraced people who were actually positively shaping the country. There was a distinction between right and wrong, positive and not positive. The kids were just as aware of this as the adults were.
For example, I went to a pub with my friends while in South Africa, and a youth generation network in America—one that is often seen as negatively impacting the minds of children—was on the television. The network was showing a reality show and my South African friends hated watching it. They didn’t even want to view it, because they said it was rubbish and not adding anything to the world.
Wow! These were young people I was spending time with, and I was amazed that they so clearly articulated the issues they saw with reality media and negative television. I was so proud of their morals and that their parents and society had instilled in them the notion of having morals and a greater responsibility to add something positive to the world.
Yet, in America and many other countries, oftentimes the opposite sentiments are those that are the most popular.
We hang onto people and role models who are only hurting the perspectives and morals of our children, our community, and our country. In fact, the advice and lifestyles of these “role models” seem to only be corrupting this generation. Yet, for some reason we—and I am guilty of this—continue to let them negatively shape us.
Granted, these are my opinions, but I do believe that there is something that every country can take from each other in order to not only positively shape the next generations to come, but to also positively shape the media that is generated.
I just feel sad and appalled to live in a world where parents have to screen every television channel—even the cartoon channels—because the media is putting out so much filth. It seems like many are aware of this, but I feel like we all need to do more. We need to speak up.
One of the greatest compliments that I would like to give to South Africans is that they tend to speak up when something is wrong. Many have diverse perspectives on different issues like racism, classism, the media, and more. But South Africans do tend to speak up when they believe that something is not right.
We need to be like this.
We each need to take on this greater responsibility and vision of creating and asking companies to generate media that positively influences our society. Unfortunately, though many of us do not want to face this truth, the media truly influences our lives in every aspect. Constant interaction with it creates certain ideas and notions within our minds, which may only add more negativity to the world.
Therefore, I hope that each of you reading this will get the “vision” of finally standing up to the media and helping it to showcase positive messages and role models for our children. As Heller Keller once stated, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” We don’t want to be this kind of person, and let’s not. Let’s learn from South Africa media on how to positively influence the generations to come. Let’s move forward in positively changing the world together.