November 2, 2014

Rector’s Reflection

I reflected a couple of weeks ago on the Lincoln, Nebraska, School System’s drive to discourage gender distinctions because some students might find it difficult (demeaning, uncomfortable, whatever) to opt for boy or girl. I am uncertain at what point in our history people started to think that several million years of human (Human Being 1.0) experience, reproduction, and interaction had been misdirected, and desperately needed correction at the hands of some deeply disturbing movements influenced by socialism, relativism, and elitism.

It may have started with participation trophies for school competitions wherein winners and losers alike are rewarded. In spelling bees, art contests, and gym classes, those who show up are hailed as much as those who stand out. Ultimately this approach destroys the concept of friendly competition in our schools (the training ground for LIFE lessons, I might add), degrading the achievements of winners and nullifying the important lessons of losing, not to mention putting clear thinking on the endangered species list. “Everyone’s a winner!” the kids are told.

Recently in Syracuse, NY, they pulled the plug on clear thinking. A peewee football team was fined $500 and their coach suspended for a week for scoring too many points. An eight-year-old boy intercepted a pass late in the game, tucked the ball, and (keeping with the spirit of the point of football) ran for the end zone. Touchdown! His first in his whole life! Hooray!!

Except… his touchdown put his team over the 33-point mercy rule. His team was charged with running up the score. Clear thinking would have simply not counted the points. Once a team leads another team by 33 points, game over. Lights out. Everyone go home. That’s mercy. A fine and suspension: that’s criminalization.

I have spent some time trying to decide what the most troubling thing about this story is and I suddenly recalled something that comedienne Rita Rudner said a few years ago. She said that she lived in fear that the person who invented Muzak would invent something else. That’s it! I live in fear that this group of adults who have chosen to exalt mediocrity by calling it mercy will move away from Syracuse and find influential positions in other fields.

Perhaps they will be in charge of medical schools where they will warn future surgeons not to have too many patients make it through, lest their clumsier counterparts be viewed less favorably and be doomed to smaller (or no) practices.

Or maybe they’ll be in law schools where they will caution future attorneys not to win too many cases because that would mean that someone else would have to lose… and lose is such a negative-Nellie word. I mean, everybody’s guilty of something, so who is one person to judge.

Or what about churches? Maybe they’ll acknowledge that Jesus Christ is a way, a truth, and a life, but they won’t want to offend anyone with a claim of particularity and exclusivity. Can’t risk upsetting those druids. Isn’t it really all about making God in man’s image?

Oh, come on now, Susan, you might say. Don’t be silly. They’re just concerned about the children.

Perhaps. But, consider this. Maybe they’ll be tasked with formulating a new system for determining the national college football champion. Won-loss records and strength of schedule would be inconsequential because they’re concerned about the children… and football teams are made up of players who are somebody’s children… so every school gets a pretty crystal trophy because everybody’s a winner. Right?