Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.
@white_owly — “A lecturer told us a story of a woman who had lived in abject poverty most of her life. She was taken on a tour of an affluent area — an almost utopian existence. She glanced around and said ‘there must be a lot of extremely poor people somewhere nearby’.”
@GWillowWilson — “I never want to hear another bad word about cultural practices of the Aztecs, the Egyptians, the Celts etc. now that we have ‘a pyrotechnical celebration of fetal genitalia burned down 100k acres in 2020’ in our history books.”
@marklittlenews — “Truth is social media [e.g. Facebook] did take power from old gatekeepers and democratise information. But reality is a new algorithmic gatekeeper with a proven record of promoting lies and undermining democracy.”
@BallouxFrancois — “I had never fully realised until now that the reason pandemic brought down so many empires and kingdoms in history, wasn’t the death toll, but the fear, the sense of doom, the irrationality and the disunion they unleashed.”
“We need to rethink the role of universities as arbiters of opportunity,” he says, “which is something we have come to take for granted. Credentialism has become the last acceptable prejudice. It would be a serious mistake to leave the issue of investment in vocational training and apprenticeships to the right. Greater investment is important not only to support the ability of people without an advanced degree to make a living. The public recognition it conveys can help shift attitudes towards a better appreciation of the contribution to the common good made by people who haven’t been to university.”
A new respect and status for the non-credentialed, he says, should be accompanied by a belated humility on the part of the winners in the supposedly meritocratic race. To those who, like many of his Harvard students, believe that they are simply the deserving recipients of their own success, Sandel offers the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding … but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
“Humility is a civic virtue essential to this moment,” he says, “because it’s a necessary antidote to the meritocratic hubris that has driven us apart.”