It’s been a tough week for news. From New Zealand, arguably the most beautiful place on the planet, 49 murders at two mosques, in a shocking display of racial, religious and ethnic hatred and bigotry. 49 deaths in New Zealand is the same % of its population as 9/11’s murders were to the US population. New Zealand will not recover rapidly from this horrific tragedy. Our thoughts, prayers and sorrow all go out to that beautiful country and its people.
In the US, arguably the worst news of the week was the college admissions scandal. What we all feared and hoped to be false was proven true – not only is cheating more widespread than in the past, but parents would stoop so low as to bribe elite colleges to let their unqualified children be admitted, despite their inability to qualify on their own merits (or if some of them could have gotten in on their own merits, we’ll now never know). Now, you may respond by saying that cheating has been going on since the dawn of time and nobody was hurt so it’s not a big deal.
I would argue the opposite – we all so desperately want our country to be a pure meritocracy that when we are presented concrete evidence it’s far from that, and that elites not only work the system but outright skirt and cheat the system, it’s easy to become disillusioned and cynical. I don’t know if these cheaters should go to federal prison for 30 days or 2 years, but I would commit every single one proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to prison time. There has to be a real price and a real lesson to be gained from this. And real punishment for the guilty. Our university admissions systems, at least at some institutions, are clearly far from objective and fair. We need to do everything in the power of the common good and public opinion to straighten those flaws out as straight as straight can be.
But don’t lose heart or become overly discouraged – in this same week, the story of the current Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) came out in the Wall Street Journal. You might believe the story of a government bureaucrat would be as uninspirational and boring as it gets, and you would be wrong. The Chairman is a female from Yugoslavia, first generation American citizen, single mother, who came to America by herself in her teenage years to attend college. She worked multiple minimum wage jobs to pay for Cal Berkeley and Cal Berkeley Law School, rose through the legal ranks to become Chief Legal Officer of a $100 billion in assets regional bank, and now has been appointed Chairman of the most important protective federal agency over our banking system before she’s turned 50 years of age. She earned this life and career through hard work and merit, and chose to be an American citizen from over 5000 miles away, having never set foot in the country. There is still a great deal of fairness and ability to achieve by merit in this great country, and Jelena Obrenic McWilliams is living the American dream, proving it is alive and well in the hearts, minds and efforts of our fellow citizens. God bless the USA.