Like a lot of people, I think the upcoming British royal wedding is exciting. There’s something escapist and fairy-tale-come-to-life about all weddings but when you add in a few princes, a queen, a beautiful bride and all the pomp and circumstance the British can muster, well then you’ve got yourself an event!
But did you know that 22 percent of the world’s countries have some form of a monarchy? More than 40 countries have either a constitutional or active monarch. Six have an absolute monarchy.
The global number of royal families increases dramatically when you take into account tribal monarchies that exist in many parts of Africa, including the country in which I served in the Peace Corps, Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso had many royal families. Some reigned over no more than a small village. Others were part of a powerful dynasty that continued to exert political, moral, religious, and social influence.
Perhaps that is the great allure of royalty today. Even without power, the idea of a monarchy still has the ability to influence us and to connect us.
Hopefully, this influence is wielded in a positive way such as when the late Princess Diana shook hands with HIV/AIDS victims, dispelling the myth that the disease could be transmitted through casual contact.
Her sons continue to do a lot of good by drawing attention to health, economic, and education issues in Africa.
So while we revel in the idea of designer wedding gowns, exotic honeymoons, glass carriages, and parties at the palace, it’s also good to remember the good that can – and should – be done when people choose to use their influence to make the world a better place.
And it’s also important to remember that each of us has that influence within our own social sphere.
Children, in particular, understand this. The argument that they might be a “good example” for someone else, especially a younger sibling or other relative or friend, is a powerful idea and one that parents should feel free to employ.
It’s also important to talk about who is a good role model for them and why. As parents, we need to explain that wealth and power are not in themselves good enough reasons to admire someone. But it’s what each of us does with the resources and the influence that we have that really determines whether or not we are admirable.
And we have the same obligation to use our resources and influence as appropriately as the Queen of England.
Maybe even more so.