The older I get, the more I respect those who came before me and clamored for the “good old days.” Growing up in the 1980s had its challenges, just like every other generation. Still, there was something unique about that decade that I just can’t shake. Perhaps it was teachers who pushed kids to learn to their potential. Sports taught me that hard work came with rewards and helped prepare us to compete in life.
As a boy, my grandfather told me that in America, I had the potential to be whatever I wanted in life. So long as I was willing to work hard.
Americans have handed down this basic principle for centuries. It helped make America the greatest country the world has ever seen. Think about it. The World War II generation saw more change than other generations in world history. They witnessed the advancement of cars and airplanes. They saw the first people to ever go to space or land on the moon. Computers, cell phones, and the internet were foreign ideas for most of their lives. They endured the Great Depression and saw some of the worst challenges of any generation, yet they still believed in America.
Then the 2010s hit, and things began to unravel. A new war on achievement was underway. Youth sports started handing out participation trophies and eroded the meaning of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Soon after, some youth leagues stopped keeping score. In public education, some schools changed grading standards. The “equity” movement is now out of control in both public and higher education.
The result of the war on achievement is the erosion of the American dream.
Let me explain… the American dream is not a beautiful home with a white picket fence. That was just slick marketing decades ago. There is a historical root to the American dream, which is very much relevant today.
At the time of the American revolution, America was highly diverse. It’s a fact not commonly taught in American history. People came from all over Europe to the colonies. There was diversity in religious beliefs, nationalities, cultures, races, and languages. Still, only one thing defined what it meant to be an American…
The common belief was that the Revolution made them one people. What the war of independence did was create freedom for people to pursue happiness. That is and has always been the American dream.
In turn, by the early 1800s, Americans created a new capitalistic economy, which created wealth in a way never seen before around the world. Ordinary people could suddenly pursue business interests and international trade. Personal interests created competition and unleashed potential in an entirely new fashion.
That stayed with America for over two centuries. Yet, over the last fifty years, people have bought into the idea that government could provide for people’s needs, and equity — which means equal outcomes— suddenly has become a real thing in society. As schools and culture taught young people that everyone deserved the same merits despite their efforts, skills, or abilities, it has translated into a new public moral that has influenced society, the economy, and politics.
Once the education system rejected test scores and commendations, it embraced equal outcome pursuits over merit. Now, it’s entirely out of control, and the long-term effects may be hard to overcome.
As you read this, medical schools are choosing not to participate in ranking systems. Numerous high schools considered by some to be the best in the country don’t want to commend their brightest or hardest-working students. What they are doing is eroding objective measures. In Virginia, several schools decided not to inform their students that they had received commendations from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Officials denied these high achievers a chance to use the prestigious award to demonstrate to colleges they were worthy of academic scholarships and other opportunities as a reward for their hard work.
The Wall Street Journal reported that one school official even admitted he wanted “to recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements.” So, equity ideas are not making outcomes more equal. Instead, they are discouraging hard work, sacrifice, and dreams.
Is it no wonder so many youths are struggling with mental health issues? There are a lot of reasons for this phenomenon. Still, equity initiatives are one part of the equation. It stifles one’s hopes and dreams. It tells young people that this is the best it’s going to get and that no matter hard they try, they won’t be any better off than anyone else.
As bad as that is, it’s also destroying the American dream — There is one thing that holds us together. Our founding documents promised that we are all free to pursue happiness, but are never guaranteed an outcome. What’s the purpose of sacrificing, learning, and working hard if the opportunity to improve one’s lot in life is the same as those who want the easy way out but enjoy the same benefits?
Who will step in to fight for the American dream?
Who will stand up and say that equity is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Who will push for policies and cultural leanings that empower people to rise above their situations?
It seems to me that the equity movement is nothing more than another government trap that leaves people dependent upon it for their needs. This can only lead to more hopelessness and despair. Instead of focusing so much on the symptoms, such as gun control, policymakers and politicians should focus on the issues underlying the problem of hopelessness, despair, loneliness, and bitterness.
Destroying the American dream isn’t the answer — asking people to live up to it is the solution!
The Conservative Era, Copyright 2023