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The War Against Achievement

A friend recently sent me a link to an inspiring video about an upbeat young black man who was born without arms. It showed him going to work — unlike the record number of people living on government payments for “disabilities” that are far less serious, if not fictitious.

How is this young man getting to work? He gets into his car and drives there — using controls set up so that he can operate the car with his feet.

What kind of work does he do, and how does he do it? He is involved in the design of racing cars. He sits at his computer, looking at the screen, with the keyboard on the floor, where he uses his toes as others use their fingers.

His story recalls the story of Helen Keller, who went to an elite college and on to a career, despite being both deaf and blind. Her story was celebrated in books, in television documentaries and in an inspiring movie, “The Miracle Worker.”

But our culture has changed so much over the years that the young man with no arms is unlikely to get comparable publicity. Helen Keller’s achievement was seen as an inspiration for others, but this young man’s achievement is more like a threat to the prevailing ideology of our times.

The vision on which the all-encompassing and all-controlling welfare state was built is a vision of widespread helplessness, requiring ever more expanding big government. Our “compassionate” statists would probably have wanted to take this young man without arms, early on, and put him in some government institution.

But to celebrate him in the mainstream media today would undermine a whole ideological vision of the world — and of the vast government bureaucracies built on that vision. It might even cause people to think twice about giving money to able-bodied men who are standing on street corners, begging.

The last thing the political left needs, or can even afford, are self-reliant individuals. If such people became the norm, that would destroy not only the agenda and the careers of those on the left, but even their flattering image of themselves as saviors of the less fortunate.

Victimhood is where it’s at. If there are not enough real victims, then fictitious victims must be created — as with the claim that there is “a war on women.” Why anyone would have an incentive or a motivation to create a war on women in the first place is just one of the questions that should be asked of those who promote this political slogan, obviously designed for the gullible.

The real war — which is being waged in our schools, in the media and among the intelligentsia — is the war on achievement. When President Obama told business owners, “You didn’t build that!” this was just one passing skirmish in the war on achievement.

The very word “achievement” has been replaced by the word “privilege” in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups that have achieved more than others are called “privileged” individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.

The length to which this kind of thinking — or lack of thinking — can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most “privileged” group there, because they had the highest average income.

What made this claim of “privilege” grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.

If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat. That is why the achievements of Asians in general — and of people like the young black man with no arms — make those on the left uneasy. And why the achievements of people who created their own businesses have to be undermined by the President of the United States.

What would happen if Americans in general, or blacks in particular, started celebrating people like this armless young man, instead of trying to make heroes out of hoodlums? Many of us would find that promising and inspiring.

But it would be a political disaster for the left — which is why it is not likely to happen.

  • Steven Smith

    The war on achievement is a war on the purpose of human existence. This is the fundamental driving force behind anti achievement. The purpose of human existence is to build the mind of God, enabling one to qualify for eternal life. – otherwise one day you get incinerated. It’s all there in Matthew 25 in the parable of the talents. Anti achievement is a attempt to rob people of their eternal lives – if that doesn’t qualify for monster status, what does?

    Mat 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  • writeby

    Quoting the Bible in defense of achievement is the same as quoting _Das Kapital_ in defense of capitalism.

    Religion is at the forefront in such a war as the aggressor _against_ achievement by its veneration of humility and its damnation of pride as a Deadly Sin, by its dogma of obedience to God, by it’s doctrine of Original Sin and, most telling, by its elevation of faith over reason.

    Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or will follow the one and despise the other. **You cannot serve both God and ego**.”

    “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, **bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ**, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” — St. Paul: 2 Corinthians 10: 4-6 [New King James Version]).

    “…The Devil would not have begun by an open and obvious sin to tempt
    man into doing something which God had forbidden, **had not man already
    begun to seek satisfaction in himself** and, consequently, to take pleasure in the words: ‘You shall be as Gods.’ The promise of these words, however, would much more truly have come to pass if, by obedience, **Adam and Eve had kept close to the ultimate and true Source of their being and had not, by pride imagined that they were themselves the source of their being**. For, created gods are gods not in virtue of their own being but by a participation in the being of the true God. **For, whoever seeks to be more than he is becomes less**, and while he aspires to be self-sufficing he retires from Him who is truly sufficient for him._” ? Augustine of Hippo, _City of God_

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And **lean not on your own understanding**…” (Proverbs 3:5)

    “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.'” (Romans 1:17)

    “Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot an destroyed, she and her wisdom…Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism…She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.” –Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148

    “But of the tree of the _knowledge of good and evil_, **thou shalt not eat of it.**” – Genesis, 2/17

    “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” – I Corinthians,
    3/19