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||This article possibly contains original research. (January 2014)|
Moral example is trust in the moral core of another, a role model. It was cited by Confucius, Muhammad, Mohandas Gandhi and other important philosophers and theologians as the prime duty of a ruler - including the head of a family or the owner of a business.
This view has been criticized as leading to totalitarianism and an overly trusting civics - which has been validated by history of China, India and Arabia to a degree. It is also true that since the exact circumstances and decisions of the lives of such moral examples cannot be reproduced or repeated, followers are often reduced to following their etiquette and customs, e.g. in ancestor worship.
Storytelling can take a central role in any culture built on moral example, particularly when the provider of the moral example does not refer to an explicit ethical theory or philosophy as the basis for his behavior. A complex culture built on such stories can fall prey to a clique of experts who interpret them for the lay public. This has led in the past to institutions that sort through anecdotes to decide which of them are true, e.g. isnad in Islam by which the hadith are validated.
In modern life, celebrities are often criticized for failing to provide moral examples. They respond sometimes by saying, that they felt comfortable as an 'inspiration' to others, but not as a 'role model'. Christians still see Jesus as the ultimate divine example- in Epistle to the Hebrews, we are told to be 'looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith' (12:2)