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The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Myth of Meritocracy

 
 
I should like this but I don't.
 
This picture has been going viral across social media lately.
 
It only tells half the story. 
 
Here's how I look at it:
 
I work like it all depends on me, but I vote like it all depends on we. We need to understand both.
 
Far too many Americans have bought into the myth of meritocracy, which suggests that your individual hard work and enterprise are the ONLY variables in your success. That's simply wrong at face value. No, it is not healthy to get stuck in a blame or victim mode, either, but it's also neither healthy nor accurate to think you are an island. Both extremes can be a trap and both have some truth, depending on how they are lived out and understood.
 
What this sign fails to realize it that it took the WHOLE COMMUNITY to build the school where this sign is on display. Millions of your fellow Americans put their time, talent and treasure on the line to make sure you got this education--taxpayers, teachers, administrators, janitors, nurses, construction workers, coaches, etc. They make sure you have a hospital when you are sick, roads to travel to school on, and a safe environment through police, fire and military presence.
 
NO, you did NOT get there on your own. Systemic injustice and oppression are real. Some groups and individuals have it harder than others--FACT. Naming that and calling society into accountability is not "playing the victim." It's just denial and gaslighting to deny that these factors do impact real lives significantly.
 
But YES, YOU do have a lot of agency in your life--probably more than you realize. No, you are not a helpless victim of peer pressure or any other circumstances in your life. But all those circumstances DO have an impact and it would be wrong to ignore it.
 
It takes a wise and mature person to sift through all this.
 

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