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What is Meritocracy and Why Must We Defend It?

By Kathy Six

July 13, 2021

What is Meritocracy?

Meritocracy is a simple concept with complex parts as Rabbi Spero states in Push Back: The Battle to Save America’s Judeo Christian Heritage - “the belief that position is earned not by color, but through the merit of one’s achievement borne of hard work and talent”. We should not be entitled to things of this world simply because we exist. I personally have had many a discussion with others regarding this idea. Liberals will insist that meritocracy cannot be achieved since some are born with less opportunity.

Let’s be clear on what opportunity means by stating what it doesn’t mean. It does not mean being given equal lives, as children with equal access, to equal money. It does not mean to have equally loving and attentive parents. It does not mean being born in a place where more jobs or colleges are accessible, or even that we are born with equal intelligence and talent. You will know when you’re speaking to someone who has a misunderstanding of the word “opportunity” when they bring up any of the above and insist these are the reasons the government must step in and provide equal opportunity. You might ask the person who insists on equal opportunity if we should start limiting parent’s rights to have children based on IQ tests, or whether one lives in a city, suburb or rural area. Perhaps we should check their DNA for abnormalities of future high risk illnesses. There is no end to the madness.

How then do we say we all have equal opportunity if we don’t start out equal?

I’m glad you asked! First, we understand and accept that we are limited by ourselves. When our parents say, “You can be anything you want to be”, they are well aware of your personal limitations and that, in time, you too will learn them. Life will teach you.

For example, if you cannot sing (like me), you will never be a famous singer. I cannot say I didn’t have equal opportunity with, say, Brittany Spears, if I cannot sing like Brittany Spears. My talents may be in another field. If someone has difficulty reading, they are not going to become an editor.

How do we define equal opportunity?

We define it by equalizing ourselves with what is possible based on what obstacles we overcome. We have an equal opportunity to be tenacious, persistent and hard working. We have an equal opportunity to express our opinions and ideas. We all have the option to receive a free education. Albeit, poorer communities may not receive the same quality of an education as a middle class suburban neighborhood. But neither did I receive the education that parallels an expensive private school in Connecticut. Why am I okay with that? It is because I know what equal opportunity actually means.

Equal opportunity does not mean equal material things or even equal struggles. My obstacles were different from my peers. I had to earn my way through college. I was the first in my family to get a college degree and the first to get a graduate degree. I did most of this while raising two children with my husband. Many of my colleagues tell a different story. They had families that paid their full tuition and they could afford to live on campus. They finished college sooner and some didn’t have large student loans to pay off. Yet, we are all teachers.

My husband has an artificial leg. He lost his left leg when he was just two years old. Could we say he didn’t have equal opportunity? No, just different obstacles. He played sports in a different way and was an excellent athlete. He was in the same classes in high school and had the same chance to learn. He actually could have lived off the state his entire adult life. He chose the life of a working man to support his family. Why? Because he understood the truth that his obstacles were different. Should I have faulted him when we married for having had the option to live off the state? Isn’t this a moment of unequal opportunity? No. You see, he could not have earned as much money by staying home and he would not have gained the skills he has obtained by being in the workforce. This was his choice. In addition, he wouldn’t have earned the self-respect he owns because he chose to work to support his family. Dignity and self-respect carry much more value for him.

While the left insists on using words like “social justice” and are constantly demonizing the wealthy societies for providing their children with things you and I were not afforded, we must remind them that “social justice” and “equal opportunity” rest on the heels of meritocracy. They are busy trying to switch out the concept of fairness for opportunity and using linguistics to confuse or distract us from what we know to be true.

There is a significant difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results. The liberal’s mindset is that one who is working hard should receive an equal result to one who isn’t. Remember our parents telling us “life isn’t fair” when we complained our friends got something we didn’t? They were right! And God is fair in his blessings, but humankind and living on earth are unfair. Our government’s job is NOT to equalize the playing field so everything is fair. If this were so, then fairness would have to be defined and measured, but spiritual beings have a multiplicity of understandings for fairness.

Casting off victimhood frees you to do more with the hand your were dealt.

Once we accept that fairness is no more achievable than equality amongst mankind, we can move toward meritocracy and achieve that which we desire (and earn), whether it be a simple life with few material goods, or great wealth with gold faucets. After all, true fairness is only fairness within the limitations of the law, and though this fairness is still imperfect, we strive for its excellence in a society that sees all men as equal.

In addition, the Judeo Christian ethos reminds us that we are all equal in spirit because we are made in the image of God. Therefore, expecting equal opportunity from the material world of humanness, we are discarding God from life. God does encourage meritocracy.

“The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.” 2 Timothy 2:6

“When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you.” Psalms 128:2

To leave you with armor for defending meritocracy, here is a quick example of something to tell your brethren who persist in demanding the government provide equal opportunity, but really mean materialistic equality or socialism.

Reply with: ”Perhaps you’d like to suggest what rules under which parents should receive their certificate to have children so all children have parents that can provide equal talents, intelligence levels, living space, nearness to parks, and are equally devoid of potential illnesses, etc. Which DNA tests do you recommend and which IQ tests? If you’re not sure of these things, perhaps meritocracy is what our country should expect instead.”

I suspect you will stun them to silence or perhaps babbling. Either way, you’ll have provided them with a quick education in the meaning of the term equality and plant a seed of thought regarding meritocracy as the true equal opportunity option.


Kathy Six - Teacher with a Master’s Degree in Gifted and Talented Students. Community involved at her lifelong residence of Fruitport, Michigan. Married to her husband Scott for 40 years and has two married children and four grandchildren. Kathy loves to hunt, fish, playing softball, and reads everything and anything she can get her hands on.

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