I’ve always been dubious that meritocracy ensures a level playing field and this week I found a podcast that articulated this view much better than I ever could.
The discussion references ‘The Rise of the Meritocracy’ a book that describes a dystopian society in a future United Kingdom (2034) in which intelligence and merit have become the central tenet of society creating a society stratified between a merited power holding elite and a disenfranchised underclass of the less merited. Hmmmm!
The podcast argues that when a society believes in meritocracy it can lose its compassion. To re-build social solidarity we need to stop measuring and stratifying by achievement and … here’s where we can think about grace, not grace in a theological way (although you can do that if you want) but grace as an antidote to the relentless unforgiving nature of meritocracy. Rather than judging people for what they acquire or achieve, we value people for the kinds of contribution they have made to their families and communities.
Part of me knows that we believe in community development because we know the work we do contributes to this view of a just society, and part of me knows that that belief can be a struggle some days. Fortunately you don’t have to look far to find examples of where this contribution is valued and understood, from communities taking charge of their own spaces in Anderston to buying land on Ulva to simply shutting off streets so children can play. Grace exists. It has to.
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