Monday, August 29, 2011

"Everyone is Special!"... Wait a minute...

“You are my friend, you are special. You are my friend; you’re special to me.” This song is familiar to anyone growing up in the 70s and 80s. Most of you reading this might think this song is a good thing, but to me it isn’t.

In the past 30 years or so, this theme has been recurring throughout the western cultures. “Everyone is special.” “There are no losers." That is the message we’ve been sending our children. Self esteem training has replaced knowledge in school. “If you can’t pass what we give you, don’t worry, we’ll give you something easier,” or “We’ll just put everything on a curve so everyone passes.” Even in the twelve years since I have been in high school, SAT scoring has changed so more people will have “acceptable” scores.

What is this kind of thinking doing to our kids? For one, it’s making our children dumb. Yup, there’s no nice way to say it, they’re getting dumber and dumber. I know what you’re going to say now, “How does having a high self esteem make you dumb?” Well, it doesn’t happen for everyone, but a lot of kids just stop trying when they’re congratulated at every turn. They feel that they can do no wrong, everything they do is great, they are the best, no one and nothing can beat them. That would be a great attitude... IF it were true.

In the real world, we don’t congratulate and praise someone for being average. Mainly because there is an overabundance of average people. The laws of supply and demand can be pointed to in this instance (leave it to me to make a link from economical practices to self worth). The better you are at something, the more you’re worth to the world. If you have nothing of substance or worth to offer, you are worth less. We are, of course omitting popularity contests like politics and fame creators like music and movies.

When there is always someone better than you at something, one of two things can happen:
  1. You try to do better.
  2. You fail to try to do better.
Really, that is all there is. It’s just surprising and sickening to me that we’ve stepped away from this when teaching our kids. It’s becoming so bad now, that some schools aren’t even giving failing grades to students any longer. No more ‘F’s. Politicians keep with their rhetoric about “No Child Left Behind”, but they fail to realize when everyone is a “winner” no one really wins. The rules of the universe forbid it. There MUST always be a loser.

So, how do we fix this? I’d say it should be fairly easy. If you’re terrible at something, you should be told. No beating around the bush, you just suck at that. Practice or quit. I think the only other way to say it is like this:

“When everyone is special, no one is.”

Just remember, if you're ever confronted by one of these people who say, "Everyone is special!" Just look at them with the coldest of expressions, and tell them how much they suck at something. Hell, a whole list of things they suck at would be better. Anything that could be a reminder to them how we, as a civilization need both winners and losers.

Honestly, what's the point of playing if there's not a winner? What's to strive for? Don't you kind of think that's why we're not perfect?


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