Inequality

This post was inspired by a writing prompt on Tipsy Lit.

There are so many people striving for equal rights, vocal and strident in their fight to be granted the same opportunities as others. Except we are not all the same, we are not born equal.

for-a-fair-selection-everybody-has-to-take-the-same-exam-please-climb-that-tree

Children pick up on this from an early age. Primary schools and sports clubs appear reluctant to reward youngster’s achievements, yet the children themselves are well aware of who amongst them is the best at running, football, gymnastics, maths. By rewarding all or rewarding none, hard won accomplishments go unrecognised. By trying to avoid labelling children winners and losers, none reap the benefits.

Inequality exists. Being fair does not necessarily mean demanding equality.

Should we instead be striving for an unbiased meritocracy? Allow the fastest, the strongest, the brightest to be selected for roles that require these attributes. Do not try to open up to all challenging disciplines that are unsuitable for an individual’s abilities.

Discrimination based on gender, skin colour or sexual orientation makes no sense; discrimination based on talent, strengths or ability, in certain circumstances, does.

But what of the opportunities to explore where talents may lie in order to allow them to be nurtured? The inequalities created by wealth distribution can be the hardest to overcome. In a world of stiff competition and scarce resources  it can be hard to offer opportunities for all from an early age.

It is inevitable that some who may have been great will slip through the net, but can we do better at offering opportunity to the most able based on merit rather than background and upbringing? How do we change a natural inclination to choose what is seen as a good fit when we are naturally drawn to prefer those who reflect back our own personal preferences?

Look around at your friends, those you have chosen to spend time with. Do they share your general views, opinions, interests, lifestyle or abilities? Do you enjoy their company because you have much in common and can share, laugh and commiserate with ease?

It may not matter that the talented surgeon who can return the sick to health is the antithesis of all you hold to be important, so long as he is willing and able to do his job to the best of his ability. Would you be able to look beyond what to you are repugnant views when selecting him for a job though? If you had to choose between him and another who was capable if not quite as brilliant, would you be inclined to select he who you simply liked better, who appeared more acceptable based on your own prejudices?

There are the obvious inequalities that we can all fight to eradicate because they are nonsensical, but perhaps the more insidious and equally damaging discriminations should be vying for our attention too. If we are to offer the best opportunities to the best people then selection cannot rely on the personal preferences of an homogeneous selection board. We would need to find a way of shaking up established practices and accepting those who are the most capable, even if they did not conform to an accepted type.

If we choose to strive for equality of opportunity based on defined achievements then we step into an unknown where we may be the ones who no longer fit.

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2 comments on “Inequality

  1. I worked for a long time in healthcare, and some of the best (in the sense of patient outcomes)were bombastic, intolerant, unpleasant, condescending, bigots. They were also damned good at keeping people alive.
    It’s difficult for work colleagues to empathise with people like that, and may simply see them as overbearing egomaniacs, which indeed they often are. In an environment where success relies less on the genius and proficiency of one person and more on the total contribuions for a group, there’s a case to be made for the idea that cooperation and ability to get along with the rest of the group is the defining requirement.

    • zeudytigre says:

      Thanks for the comment. I guess it can sometimes be hard to define exactly what a role needs. So often, though, selection does seem to depend on how well a candidate matches the selectors prejudices as well as requirements.

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