The Left Honors Nothing

By Gregory Welborn


Cole Middle School, Rhode Island

Cole Middle School, Rhode Island

Last week we were treated to stories about political correctness in our universities, but this week a little middle school has upped the ante. That’s right; the Cole Middle School of Providence Rhode Island has shown its betters about how to really implement Liberal philosophy.  The school cancelled “Honor’s Night” because, as the principal explained, it was “too exclusive”.

It’s tempting to just ridicule this as the idiocy it truly is, but that would not do justice to the lessons we can learn.  You see, this principal – and those parents who support the decision – truly believes that her decision was the right thing to do.  This is not maliciousness, cruelty, or anger.  Principal Alexis Meyer believes so much in the liberal dogma of egalitarianism that she sees Honor’s Night as a moral wrong and cancelling it as a moral right.  The stridency of this belief allows Liberals to be blind to the harm they do.

The first issue to be addressed is simply the practicality of implementing the principle.  To banish any sign of exclusivity is to make life unworkable.  Every award, every degree, and every program that has competitive admissions standards is exclusive by definition.  Honoring junior high students who have achieved excludes those who have not.  Admitting some into college excludes those who are rejected.  Awarding a degree to college students who pass their classes excludes those students who do not.  And lastly, awarding Ph.D.s to lofty Liberals is itself an act of exclusion against those who don’t earn the degree.  There’s no comment about these exclusive programs and degrees because to deal with them is to unravel the basic argument.

But let’s look beyond the logistical considerations.  What would be the effect of banning the vast majority of exclusive events or awards?  As much as Liberals would like to deny the basics of human nature, or to believe that they can be readily changed, human nature changes only slightly more than glaciers (pre-global warming of course).  The truth is that if you reward something, you’ll get more of it; if you punish something, you’ll get less of it.  The corollary is that if you fail to reward difficult but needed activity, you’ll get less of the needed activity.

French Revolution

An example of Egalitarianism that just didn’t turn out all that well

Psychologically, we also do great harm when we teach people – implicitly or explicitly – that hard work is not good or that rewards should be given without having been earned.  When people receive something for nothing, or when they know it is unwarranted by their actions, they become self-absorbed, even narcissistic, and dissatisfied with life.  There is no legitimate self-worth that is not truly earned.  On the other hand, when people know they have earned what they receive, they learn contentment and humility and develop a true sense of self-worth.

Lastly, turning to basic moral principles, we must recognize that egalitarianism – the belief that all must be equal – comes from the good side of human nature.  This is not one of the seven deadly sins.  Humans have a good side to their nature and a bad side.  What’s too often missed is that both sides taken to an extreme result in bad outcomes and often in outright evil. 

Avarice taken to an extreme is obvious.  It is part of our bad nature, and taken to an extreme is the base cause for most crimes of property.  Egalitarianism is less obvious.  Basic equality is a very noble value.  But taking equality of outcome to its extreme is the base cause of the crimes of communism and the vast majority of the evil of the 20th century.  Those true believers in equality of outcome have been willing to send millions to re-education camps for no reason other than the fact that they owned more than their neighbors.  In China, it was routine for egalitarian spasms to prompt the arrests of shop owners because they were shop owners.  In Cambodia, the extreme was seen in the forced starvation of people for no reason other than they wore glasses and thus likely were more educated than the average citizen.  Millions have died horrible deaths because of the excesses of egalitarianism.

equal.quoteThe greatness of America is that we have largely found the solution for balancing the various passions of the people – the good ones and the bad ones.  Our founders were not as afraid of the meanness of the masses as they were of the excesses of their good intentions.  They built a system to provide equality before the law while allowing the warranted and earned inequality of outcomes.  In so doing, they drew on a deep understanding of human nature and a solid grounding in biblical wisdom.  The Scriptures are full of exhortations to care for the downtrodden, but also to allow the hard working the fruits of their efforts. 

When middle schools forbid the awarding of honors, we’ve lost our way.  We’ve strayed from a path that has blessed us with fairness, unity and prosperity for several hundred years against all odds of success and every other example of history.

Gregory J. Welborn is a freelance writer and has spoken to several civic and religious organizations on cultural and moral issues.  He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 3 children and is active in the community.  He can be reached


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