Friday, 24 August 2007

Princess Beatrice and Role Models

BBC Radio Scotland Thought for the Day - August 2006
Amanullah De Sondy

"I see myself as a mini mummy" - so said Princess Beatrice of York on her 18th Birthday this week. Her Mummy, Sarah, Duchess of York, might not be everyone's ideal role model, but for Beatrice she's just perfect. We choose role models for all sorts of different reasons but at the core of this choice we all seek someone or something to look up to, for inspiration and guidance in our own lives.

International political figures also seem to follow others. It could be argued that the strong resistance of the infamous Castro has rubbed off on other South American leaders. Love them or loath them, Siri-ma-vo Bandranaik of Sri Lanka, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan and Margaret Thatcher have all played their part in empowering female participation in politics. Or closer to home the embattled Tommy Sheridan, warts and all, will still be an inspiration to some in the socialist movement in Scotland.

The beauty of role models is that they are not perfect. Watching the World Cup Final between Italy and France, I was told by a good friend that the Algerian Muslim Zidane was regarded as a good natured player on the pitch, but seconds later my friend’s statement was shattered with a head butt!

In the Muslim tradition even the prophets, as men, are shown to be flawed and prone to make mistakes. The prophets are 'perfect' role models, but the stories we read about them also tell us of their imperfections. Even the Prophet Muhammad. In one story he frowns and ignores a poor blind man, who wanted to learn more about God. In the Qur’an Muhammad is chastised by God. "What do you know? The blind man might be purified by the guidance of the Qur'an?."

This story reminds me of an Oscar Wilde quote. Maybe Wilde had a point when he said, "I think that God, in creating Man, somewhat overestimated his ability."

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