As we make our journey across this Earth, we learn to imitate those that we admire. Idolization starts from the moment of human interaction. We first imitate our parents, then friends, moving to teachers, coaches and bosses. We choose to emulate the people whose qualities seem to benefit us. But many lose sight of who and what is important. We give in to what is easy, simulating what is popular, not necessarily right. Just read the latest news headlines and I’m sure you will catch my drift.
Today’s youth need a powerful role model more than ever. With all the turmoil and tragedy that happens within some homes, children need someone to grab to like a rock. Someone they know they can turn to whenever things get rough. But does that hero necessarily have to be a someone? Can’t it be a something? I believe that of the greatest role models is not of human flesh and bones, but in fact of metal. He is a truck and one of the ultimate leaders this world will ever see.
Optimus Prime was first introduced to me at the age of nine. I would wake up early on school days specifically to watch he and his fellow Autobots travel around the universe. It was hard to miss his appeal. Massively strong, stoic, but compassionate with a voice to match all those qualities. Not to mention he was red and blue, my favorite color scheme. Fuse all that into a gigantic semi with combining trailer and you have yourself an absolutely unparalleled combination of any young boy’s dream. But he was so much more than just looks. Optimus Prime’s thoughts and actions are what truly defined his character.
He has high respect for all forms of life. Perhaps his most famous quote is “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.” He is an alien in our world who could easily harm anyone who stood in his way. However, instead of destruction, he shows compassion. As someone who has seen the desolation of his home due to the conflict of war, he wants nothing more than peace and prosperity. Even when Deceptions or others threaten this principle, Optimus would rather forgive than fight. In fact, he would rather die than allow anyone to be harmed. A true example of self-sacrifice.
The true sign of a leader is not based on the orders he barks or his allegiance to a cause. Rather, it is how one inspires and grows the troops under one’s command. Optimus Prime never asks any more of his followers than he would ask of himself. He sees and guides them to maximize their potential through constructive lesson. Never would he abuse his power or harp on the poor decisions of others. He teaches and in turn receives loyalty, the utmost sign of respect to bestow a leader.
Above all else, Optimus knows that nothing is more important than having a good heart. Even he himself started as a humble cleric, questioning why things where and why no had done anything to change them. Sure, it may take strength and size to overcome some enemies, but a body is just an empty shell without a soul. Even a truck knows that it won’t get anywhere without a driver. He will never give up on someone. He can see the spark of moral righteousness inside all of us even though we may not see it ourselves, because he knows there is always more than meets eye.
Optimus Prime may just be a work of fiction. He may just be robot who turns into a truck. But his values and persona will last forever. The idea of the virtuous leader is what our society was built upon and what it so desperately needs today. I just hope that anyone who needs help can find sanctuary in him, listen to his words and light their, and other’s, darkest hour.