The last couple of weeks has seen two role models in the news day in and day out – Rajat Gupta & Lance Armstrong. Both were the best in their respective fields. Both inspired millions across the planet to live, to work, to be happy and contented. Both had achieved so much and more that they could safely say “I have done more than my part of the work God sent me for.” Both were legends in their own right.

But then, they cheated. They showed the world that they are mere mortals like all of us. They showed the world that they are not God – a pedestal many of us had given them. They got punished, ridiculed and disgraced for their actions by millions across the world who revered them. But did all of us agree to that? Did we really believe that they had done something wrong? From reasons like “They are being unfairly targeted” to “The amount of charitable work they have done in their lives, even ten of us won’t be able to do”, people wanted to defend them. Can role models not do any wrong? Is it wrong to criticize someone for the right thing? Are role models beyond any criticism?

So why do people always defend their role models stoutly? From what I analyzed, there are three main reasons which lead to people defending the indefensible:

1. Blindly follow role models – With their work, their lifestyles and their contribution to society and everyday life, guys like Rajat Gupta and Lance Armstrong are an inspiration to those who consider them as role models. Many of these followers are so enamored by their role models that they try to copy their actions, words and lifestyles. But is it good to blindly follow them? Can they not be wrong? Can they not be human after all?

2. Godly status – These role models are elevated to the position of “God” by their followers. According to guys who knew Rajat Gupta, they never believed he could do any wrong. They always thought he was someone who walked his talk. He shined like a beacon throughout the world with his work speaking for itself. No one ever imagined that Lance Armstrong would use drugs. He had recovered from Stage 3 Testicular cancer and one had to be God to recover like that! But would God cheat like these guys cheated?

3. Unfairly targeted – If there is no other valid reason to defend your role model, this is the one you can fall back upon most of the time. From reasons like “He is famous and has a lot of money” to “He has so many firsts to his credit and has achieved a lot in life”, people have a variety of points to give when asked as to why their role models would be unfairly targeted.

Have a role model. That gives your life a sensible path and direction. But don’t convert you role model into “God”. He / She is a human being after all and can make mistakes. And if a mistake is made, it has to be pointed out. Showing all the wrongs as right doesn’t serve any purpose whatsoever!

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.Winston Churchill