Graduates, be your best

There is no shame in excellence, or in striving to improve yourself

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Time was when Americans were told that the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Today, Americans are taught to fear their own shadow, particularly if it might offend someone else.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for instance, announced that going forward, all its employees would receive the highest performance evaluation possible – so as to prevent any cases of perceived discrimination or, presumably, hurt feelings.

Right. You wouldn’t want poor-performing employees to feel bad, and heaven forbid you reward or encourage high-performing workers.

This bureau, by the way, was created in 2011 to peek into big-bank transactions. We’re not sure how it spends its $447 million budget, but we suspect too much will go toward undeserved pay increases.

Everyone at the CFPB gets the same evaluation; everyone gets the same raise, no matter how hard or effectively they work. It’s a workers’ paradise!

Meanwhile, at a Rhode Island middle school, officials announced recently that they were canceling honors night, fearing that its “exclusive nature” would make the other kids feel left out.

Really? But isn’t that the point? To reward excellence, by definition, is to separate it out and call attention to it. And by calling attention to it, you hold it up as a goal for others to shoot for.

This is a bad thing in today’s America?

In a word, yes.

Mercifully, after being rightly savaged for their decision, which was publicized nationally, officials at Archie R. Cole Junior High School in East Greenwich backpedaled and promised to honor the top-performing students at an event.

They issued a mealy-mouthed statement claiming they’d “had no intention of failing to acknowledge and celebrate exemplary student accomplishment in its many forms.” But that’s so much hokum. They had every intention of toning down the recognition of top students.

What a shame. But what a statement on modern-day America, where “elite” is a bad word and everyone gets a trophy filled, more often than not, with the sweet and empty merengue of fraudulent self-esteem.

We do our children no favors when we downplay excellence in the hopes of convincing them there’s no difference among people. We only set themselves up for failure, and hand down a skewed view of reality.

It’s OK for some people to be better at some things than others. If everyone could sing like Andrea Bocelli, or play basketball like LeBron James, there’d be no need for concerts and no one could make a living at playing ball.

And how boring would life be? Our varying abilities are a beautiful gift of nature, one to be celebrated – and, yes, honored – rather than papered over out of guilt, fear or shame.

If we were all the same, we would all be diminished.

Please, kids, if you learn just one thing in your formal education, understand that the egalitarian ideal of sameness is hogwash – and thank God for that!

Strive to be the best. And if others earn the blue ribbon, applaud them lustily while silently determining to improve yourself.

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Darby
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Darby 06/03/14 - 09:28 am
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Remember Jesse Jackson's

now defunct mantra..

I AM SOMEBODY! I AM SOMEBODY! I AM SOMEBODY! I AM SOMEBODY! I AM SOMEBODY! I AM SOMEBODY!

If that's all you've got going for you, then NO, YOU ARE NOT SOMEBODY!

But you can be. You can make something of yourself. But it takes work. Hard work! It requires struggle, self-reliance and sacrifice.

Just meeting your obligations, taking care of your family and not bringing shame on yourself is enough to make you the equal to or better than the greatest politician or business person out there.

Particularly some that we are burdened with today!

But, no one is important just because someone says they are.

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