Competence: The Hallmark of Society’s Success…
What can be more determinant in life’s outcomes than competence? Our entire free market system predicates it and so it should. Anything less would be detrimental to a well-functioning society. Without it, structures wouldn’t endure, products wouldn’t work, and services wouldn’t be effective. Our entire standard of living would drop, and our modern-functioning economy would turn to dilapidation and decrepitude. Competence is the creator of outstanding achievement and is the hallmark of society’s success.
This is not to say that any particular system is ever perfect. Relegating competence to the pinnacle in all facets of any society is an impossibility. However, a society that doesn’t operate on its foundation will inevitably be a society that disintegrates into corruption and malevolence. For if competence becomes secondary, then what becomes primary? Is it patronage? Is it what you are as opposed to what you can do? If so, the spiral into ineptitude will be never-ending, leaving only dysfunction and dissatisfaction in its wake.
Russian-born American writer Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) succinctly stated that “Violence is the last refuge of incompetence.” Surely, he said this with reason. Asimov spent his first three years in post-revolutionary communist Russia when his parents immigrated with him to the United States in 1923. The communist system was predicated on anything but competence. In fact, being capable was reason enough to deport one to the infamous Russian communist prison camp system known as The Gulags. That is, if one wasn’t killed before sent off.
In an attempt to “flatten” society and make it “equal”, the communists immediately targeted those above the norm as “exploiters of the people”. To be competent or better at something than someone else made one a mark. More than naught one ended up in the direst of consequences. One reading of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1970 Nobel Prize winning seminal work The Gulag Archipelago does more than enough to explain this. The end game of a system where political identity is everything and competence is nothing.
We in the West, where for more than two thousand years our forebears cultivated the primacy of the sovereign individual over the group, have much to lose should we ever forego the primacy of competence (see Notre Dame: More Than a Cathedral). Hence, we must recognize, reward, and above all, pay it respect. To not do so means the undoing of everything achieved. It means the dismantling of a society premised on the hard work, talent and capabilities of competent people. We can have no greater goal than to ensure its sanctity. Lest we sink into a morass of unwarranted privilege and entitlement.
So, let it be incumbent upon us to never forget that competence is the hallmark of society’s success and must always remain so…
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