At the end of this year, I would like to express my anger. A justified reaction in light of the manifold ills that plague our world: The billion people who go to bed hungry every night; the two billion people who do not have enough water to meet their basic needs; women who are raped, excised, beaten; young people who are unemployed, obscene wealth, unjust wars, homeless people, the incompetence and bad faith of some journalists, the mediocrity of so many politicians, the procrastination of government leaders who have missed so many opportunities to take courageous decisions and reform their country.
Yet, today, I would like to focus my anger on another issue: The denunciation of the elites, currently so fashionable that the word itself has become an insult, and that it is now good form to deny being part of them.
I am getting sick and tired of people bracketing together the wealthy, the powerful, the elected officials, the journalists, the teachers, the intellectuals, and all those who « know. »
It is shameful and dangerous not to differentiate them. It is legitimate to criticize the agenda of the wealthy and the powerful, whether they got there because of money or mandate.
On the other hand, it is unacceptable to criticize those who owe their status only to their diplomas or their work. What we should be doing, in fact, is to glorify knowledge and the qualifications acquired, admire those who obtained them and consider them as role models. Those who undergo a lengthy university education should be admired, those who create works of art or businesses, and craftsmen who hand make objects should be applauded, those who, without harming anybody, have a positive impact on the world. Even if incidentally they become wealthy in the process.
To denigrate the value of excellence is to fail to encourage young people to study, and fail to increase their knowledge and skills. Only audacity and self-assurance are given recognition today. Only those with the loudest voice, and who cause a scandal are being heard. We only pay attention to those who appear to disturb us, in other words, those who have no impact on the world.
Countries choosing this path will be condemned to decline and will be left to compete with those who make academic success, creativity, and innovation into an obsession. And therefore, those who establish effective means to ensure access for all.
Those who are discrediting the true elites are, for the most part, in the West. Those who are worshiping those who are doing whatever they can to deserve to be a part of them are found primarily in Asia.
In France, in particular, such a blight can be found in much of the media and in many political parties. And those who ought to resist, because they worked to get where they are, too often ‘fold’ their hands in the face of this demagogy. It dominates the social networks, where the promotion of mediocrity is the natural corollary of anonymity. It is a triumph in the media. It is used as the criterion for what is true in many political parties: The more diplomas you have the more you are suspected, accused of being part of a « self-proclaimed, cosmopolitan and globalist elite », and therefore you are discredited.
So I would like here to applaud this elite. Of those who feel like human beings eager for knowledge and creation before being products of a terroir, who consider that holding degrees, that place them in a democratic elite, means they have a duty to be useful to those who were unable to do so. In other words to « become yourself, » having respect for oneself, understanding and having a sense of oneself, a belief in one’s uniqueness. Of those who help others to be part of this legitimate elite, by breaking down walls of access to academic excellence, which is too often opened only to the children of this very elite. There is nothing less « self-proclaimed » than those who have worked hard to get their degrees.
I would love to see our country regain its rightful position among the elite group of nations, the elite in knowledge, innovations, research, creation, social mobility, and justice. Because in the last resort, only knowledge will encourage us to become tolerant and humble, and perhaps this is what will protect us against the eruption of barbarism.