As we all know, the manufacturing of goods, the industry of construction, agriculture, and many other human activities utilize models, standardized products and the process of copying. Mass production is but a process of copying a product or replicating the same one. This process provides the foundation of the industrial revolution or the modern economy.
For example, if we want to make a hundred chairs, it is much easier, more efficient and less time consuming by copying a hundred times each of its parts and then assembling them than making a hundred chairs separately and each made independently. It is all about energy and efficiency. One of the undisputed truths of this life is that natural resources are limited.
We apply the same logic in education, human control, liberation, or training. Dealing with each and every single individual is simply impossible and very, very inefficient. Hence, role modes are indispensable. Actually, not only from an efficiency point of view, but sometimes role models provide the only way to affect human beings.
Role models are used by governments to control people. They’re used to exploit them as well as they are used for educational purposes. So, a role model is a technique of affecting people whether it is used for good or for bad. They are used by religion, by politics, by sports; they are used in warfare as well as for peaceful activity.
In this regard, Secularism – be it the eastern communism or the western democracy, has invested heavily in role models. The New Soviet Man, for instance, was an archetypical person which would embody a set of qualities and characteristics that the communist government deemed as perfect for human control. By emulating the archetypical new soviet man, the job of the government would become extremely easier to control and exploit people.
The West is no different than the Soviet Union in this aspect except that it has used other techniques and more insidious ways of forcing on people archetypical qualities, by means of propaganda, reward and punishment and education. The poet W.H. Auden, for example, speaks about the concept of the unknown citizen in the USA, similar to the Soviet New Man.
In religion, role models are no less than prophets themselves. God has commissioned certain people not only to convey His message of salvation, but to serve as role models for guidance and liberation from human enslavement. In this context, the Qur’an says, “These prophets were rightly guided by Allah, so follow their guidance.” [6:90]
People are free to choose. We can choose a role model provided by the government and politics in order to facilitate their control upon us, or we can choose to emulate a prophet of God who provides the best example for human liberation, dignity, prosperity and salvation.
The battle of and about role models is very serious because it has to do with control, taxes, exploitation, or liberation and salvation.