War on Meritocracy
As Americans, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to cheer for the underdog and villainize the upper class. This goes back to our colonial roots and opinions of our English overlords. We easily fall in love with the origin story of a nobody who comes from nothing and makes it big. It gives us hope that we can do it too.
However, once the nobody gets to the top, we love tearing them down even more. Every one of their flaws is highlighted, and we attack without hesitation. They are no longer the underdog or one of us. They’re the ones keeping us down.
Popular culture causes us to chase conspiracy theories, the most prominent being that the top 1% in wealth purposely keep us down. Never mind the stretch in thinking that successful people worry about everyone else enough that they focus on keeping other people down. This is an easy narrative that leads us to villainize anyone with success and to declare that merit is a thing of make-believe. We fail to realize that those with success achieve it by focusing on themselves and not worrying about others. The belief that people go out of their way to keep others down is a great narrative but an absurd way of thinking.
At its root, jealousy drives us to want equal treatment for everyone above us in status. We hear stories as children that we must work hard to achieve success. Now as adults we write success off as privilege.
To achieve success, luck is involved, and being in the right place at the right is important. However, meritocracy is a real thing, and effort does lead to outcomes. Not all efforts result in a reward, nor does it behoove anyone to argue that all efforts are equal. Yet, many still believe that the only answer is that those with success got lucky or that it was handed to them.
We all have different starting points in life, and this will always be the case. Success is a fictional sliding scale, one that you, as an individual, decide on. Your scale may be very small and easy to attain, or it may be one of absurd proportion that you will always fail to achieve. What is true is that if your scale of success is decided by mirroring someone else, you will only find disappointment in your journey. You will be much better off in life if you focus on your own efforts instead of victimizing yourself and villainizing someone else and their achievements.
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