The New York Times recently published a profile piece on clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson claiming Peterson is the “pedigreed voice” of those cretins who wish to undermine efforts by liberals to promote equality.
Peterson’s excellent new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, has sold more than a million copies since its release this past January.
But this is not about Peterson’s insightful tome, which is not primarily about equality, although that topic comes up in it. This is about the futility and great negatives of attempting to force equality of results.
Some years ago a step in that direction occurred in some schools in an attempt to save students from the negative feelings resulting from failure, or not being among the best at something. Instead of celebrating the best three or four with a trophy, some schools decided everyone deserved a trophy just for participating.
Even though one of the twenty participants in a 100-yard dash came in well ahead of the others, and four did not even finish the race, it is now the case for all participants to receive a trophy. Hurt feelings and disappointment are no-nos. But where’s the recognition for the fastest runner who beat the runner-up by a full second? First, second and third place trophies? Absolutely not! “Trophies for all” is better.
In recent tryouts for a high school cheerleading squad, one girl who tried out, but did not make the cut, was unhappy, as might be expected. So, her mother called the school and complained, and the school has since ruled that all who tried out will be accepted for the squad.
What about those that are just better at it and actually earned a position through their preparation and performance? Does that mean the school will now accept all of those who show up for every tryout or team, regardless of their respective abilities? What if 50 girls show up next year for the cheerleading squad?
Some of the 50 will be significantly less able to perform than others. Will the squad have to do their challenging cheers badly, or just do less challenging cheers? Maybe they will just stand in a line and recite the cheers, hopefully together. What about the increased expense of outfitting 50 girls instead of 12? What if every girl in the school wants to be a cheerleader?
Regardless of their skills, preparation, or experience, every girl in the school is now deemed equal when it comes to cheerleading.
Except, of course, that they aren’t. Imposing equality attempts to equalize that which is inherently not equal.
Another popular topic is whether people doing the same job should receive the same pay. “Yes,” you may say. But it is more complicated than it appears.
Are they equally good employees that produce equally high quality work; do all have the same amount of experience; do they work the same hours? If all those are truly equal, perhaps they should receive equal pay. But that isn’t always, or even usually, the situation. Reality is rarely that cooperative.
We are all different, by design. Some of us are tall, some short. Some brilliant, some are less so, and some not at all. Some are athletic while others are not. Some are good at math, science, English, geography, art, music or other things, but also may not be good at others of those subjects. And there’s nothing liberals can do to equalize those natural inequalities.
How do you put a guy who trips on the stairs and continually drops things on the baseball or basketball team with kids who can actually play the game, and consider him equal to the others?
This trend of rewarding everyone regardless of their merit has taken hold, and has grown to a point where preventing individuals from having negative feelings is of greater importance than their learning to deal with the slings and arrows of life.
Many of us have decided that protecting feelings by giving everyone an award is more important than recognition for actual accomplishments. It is not a bad thing to compete with one another, to try to be the best among your peers, or at least work to be the best you can be. Do we no longer value excellence or achievement? Or is mediocrity the new national goal?
There is order in systems to rank people by their abilities, and forcing round pegs into square holes by imposing equality creates chaos. The effort to make all equal is chaotic, because it replaces order with disorder.
Protecting hypersensitive feelings did not get us to the top. America reached its peak of greatness by encouraging people to achieve great things and striving for excellence.
Equality – true equality in all things – is a pipe dream; an impossibility. But liberals seem determined to try, try and try again to produce the impossible. And this pretty well explains liberalism. In its efforts to achieve utopia, it makes promises that it cannot keep.
We can certainly work to improve equality of opportunity. After that, it’s up to the individual to succeed on her or his own initiative.