Friday, June 21, 2013

Sad Truth: We're Satisfied With Mere Window Dressing

Once in a while, a commentator makes, what seems to me, a pithy statement that truly distills our complex society down to a profound essence.  Over at Instapundit, the Good Professor has done just that in his trademark way.  I reproduce in full...
GOOD NEWS: NASA’s 2013 Astronaut Candidate Class Is Half Women.
Bad news: NASA doesn’t have any actual, you know, spaceships.
Reynolds has captured the core truth of the difference between what a complex society aims to achieve and what it actually has achieved.  And the results are not inspiring. 

We've prioritized and pursued the ideal of equal rights and opportunities regardless of race or gender, which is all to the good.  Ideally, of course, that openness ought to be overlayed onto a society ripe with opportunities and fruitful pursuits that can absorb the broader spectrum of human capital and benefit from it.  That's not what we've done.  We've meticulously and scrupulously engineered an arithmetical diversity into all walks of life but eroded the fundamental vitality and potential for progress that is the point of greater opportunity in the first place.  To wit, what good a bunch of female astronauts with no spaceships to fly? 

And having failed in achieving the ideal, we've retroactively redefined progress from the lack of barriers to opportunity to that feel-good arithmetical diversity.  Most will praise the fact of the good news and completely ignore the bad news.

Reynolds's example of a scrupulously gender-equal astronaut cadre with no spaceships is bracingly illustrative.  I might add another Reynoldsian sign of the times - a black man occupying the oval office with black unemployment at (an understated) 14%.  We display all the outer signs of openness and equality where everyone can flourish based on their abilities and yet we've destroyed the ability to flourish.

Bottom line: we've satisfied ourselves with window dressing, and it is a profoundly unhealthy society that is satisfied with that.


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