Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Would You Do With Fame?

Fifteen minutes! That is the amount of fame that we are told to expect in life. Not that much when you stretch it out over the course of many years. But what are you going to do with those precious minutes?
Over the past few weeks we have seen the results of so many who have chosen to use their fame for, shall we say, less than sterling exploits. The sexual escapades of athletes, movie stars, “people who to be honest I really don’t know what they do except show up on magazine racks” have become the fodder of news articles.

Recently South Carolina joined that list—again. A recent winner of a beauty pageant, who had become a YouTube star, re-appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show in a segment entitled, “Where Do Babies Come From?” On one front it was funny late-night fare, but on a much deeper level it was terribly disturbing. From interviews with people on the street to the “Octomom” the punch line was that our teens—specifically SC teens—have no idea where babies come from.

The tragedy is that for far too many that is the case. The recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that 24% of middle school students have had sexual intercourse—yet how many of them have had sex education? How many of them have had a conversation with a parent? How many of them are getting their education from videos, movies, media stars?
But what really disturbed me was that one of our own would exploit that tragedy for another 15 minutes of fame!

Fortunately that is not always the case! While she would never proclaim this fact herself, Erica Powell, a former Miss South Carolina chose to use her platform to make a difference. Throughout her tenure she worked with staff members from the SC Campaign to inform teens how making responsible decisions about sexuality opens opportunities for their future. Rather than pretending to be a space cadet, this Furman graduate gave our youth a picture of a responsible young adult. And her commitment didn’t end with her reign as Miss SC. Since that time she has served on the board of the SC Campaign, offering insight and wisdom as this organization seeks to make a difference in the future of our youngest citizens.

At a time when fame has been used as a springboard to show off the worst of behavior, it is refreshing to see someone use an opportunity to do something good. Erica, thank you for what you continue to give to our state! Perhaps as adults we should take a lesson!

By: Rev. Don Flowers, Immediate Past Board Chair and Pastor of Providence Baptist Church
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