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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On Patriotism and Meritocracy

I woke up this morning to an interesting exchange between some Friends on Facebook. I've taken out their names to protect their privacy... after all, I can see their exchange because I am a Friend, but that doesn't mean they want their thoughts shared with the all and sundry. The quality of their exchange and its content spoke to me, and I wanted to share with my readers.

Person A
In my most humble opinion, I reckon patriotism (just like loyalty and respect) has to be earned. It is my naive opinion that too many policy statements which contain the phrase "for the greater good of the whole (or the many)..." is detrimental to the development of patriotism. Further, it is my simple-minded opinion that a point of view similar to the USMC's "never leave a marine behind" policy is the exact soil for growing loyalty. Everybody wants to be loved and valued. Nobody wants to be the individual that is sacrificed so that the rest of society can benefit. Instead, each man's death diminishes me because I am part of mankind ("Ask Not For Whom The Bells Toll", John Donne). The paradox? The more society values each individual, the more likely the component individuals are willing to sacrifice for that society. 

Person B Responded to Person A
Agreed. There is no such thing as an absolute meritocracy, because in such a system, every man who is rewarded for his merits will result in a man who drops to the bottom of the heap. And society will not accept this, since we recognize that the individual at the bottom may not be there because he did not try his best.

My Own Thoughts
It never occurred to me that patriotism needed to be earned, and that asking some to sacrifice themselves for the common good destroys patriotism. Self sacrifice for the common good is a choice an individual makes. We cannot ask it. The moment you open your mouth to ask it, then patriotism drops and no one will volunteer to sacrifice himself for the sake of the country.

Person B's response warmed my heart. If people were all rewarded based on raw meritocratic output, the system ignores the fact that people receive varying inputs... and the individual at the bottom may be stuck there because everyone else has input galore but he has not.

Post on Population White Paper HERE.

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