Friday, 1 July 2016

The Day the Earth Stops Moving

As I was reading the Father’s Day edition of the Sunday Times, I came across an article that spoke about how the whole world is waging a war against ‘un-intelligent’ people. It goes on to speak of how college degrees are becoming essential now, of how all menial, ‘unintelligent people’ jobs are being replaced by robots, automation and drones and how the support provided by the government is pitiable.

That is all fine, but as I read the last line, I felt a shiver run through my spine. It read, "we must stop glorifying intelligence and treating our society as a playground for the smart minority. We should instead be shaping our economy, our schools, even our culture with an eye to the abilities and needs of the majority, and to the full range of human capacity." As I read this line, I was reminded of John Galt from Ayn Rand’s book ‘Atlas Shrugged’. The words of the Antagonists from the book began to echo in my ears and the effect of their policies began to flash before my eyes.

To summarise the takeaway from the book, it criticizes the people who take pride at their own mediocrity and are so proud to be average, they refuse to work hard to improve themselves. The book paints a world shaped with an eye to the abilities and needs of such a majority, and it ultimately leads to the doom of the world, as those who do work hard and strive to be above average, go on a strike against the system, as it makes them bear all the weight of the world, just like Atlas.

Coming back, making the world for the mediocre would only be a start of this doom. I understand that the author meant well by waging a war against a system that seeks to belittle and demean mistakes and one that demands nothing less than perfection. He talks about how people these days make fun, rather than help someone who doesn’t know a topic. I agree with this point. I have seen some of my classmates do it and it is a very ugly practice.

 One should never be afraid of making mistakes as that leads to being stuck to the tried and tested. Truly, if no one dares to make a mistake, there will be no growth. But to belittle meritocracy is no good. I am personally a believer in Carol Dweck's principle that if you work hard and learn new things, there is nothing you cannot do. That is true intelligence. To belittle the intelligence of this kind is fatal. I would always want to live in a world where the work I put in, is rewarded.

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I understand my definition of intelligence and that of the author may also vary, but really, no one really reaches the top without hard work. The so-called ‘born brilliant’ people too, put in a lot of effort, dedication and passion into their work. We only see the result and claim they are ‘blessed’ but refuse to understand the inhuman amount of work they have put behind the curtains.

A society need not always profess in the necessity of academic brilliance I agree, but it should never be one that belittles the need to be good at what you do. Telling people it is alright to just coast along- leeching off the work other people have put in, is unethical and unproductive. Sure, such a society may continue to retain all its jobs, but it will lose real productivity and any real inventions or breakthroughs. To create such a society that promotes the average would lead to no good because ambition to be better, or achieve more is often the fuel for the growth of a civilization as a whole. The day the drive for betterment stops, will be the day the Earth stops moving forward.

The article did raise one good point though- Of how poverty and intelligence have a strong negative correlation. It says that the elementary education that a child receives has a very strong impact on him/her; it is one that can never be compensated if lost. Thus, by default, people who are poor as kids may never reach their true potential, due to their poverty. Personally, I think it’s not just education, but everything we see, feel, experience and do in our childhood that has a significant and irreplaceable effect on us. So, instead of trying to create a ‘mediocre’ world, we should focus on opening up the minds and hearts of kids to various experiences and showing them the true importance of hard work and dedication.


Written by Shreya Srinivasan
A person of varied interests, with a possible ADHD that went unnoticed as a child. A gypsy philosopher looking for her place and space in the world. Admittedly a little odd at first, but then, you have to be odd to be number one.

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