Sunday, September 7, 2008

To David, On Elitism

Dear David,

The charges of elitism are cant. In sports, Americans want winners, from grade school to high school to college to professional sports, to the Olympics. This requires a commitment to elitism. In war, we want elite troops. In politics, we elect people with money; our representative government is hardly of, by, or for the people.

Nevertheless, Americans want to think well of themselves, not only of their surrogates, and feel threatened by superior character. Imagine Jesus speaking at this week's convention in Minnesota, and watch him being forceably escorted out of the arena.

I use Jesus as an example because he is the superior person who teaches me most, and whose real presence is rejected by many Christians who do not feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or visit him in prison.

The Republicans are very good at winning Presidential elections, less good at defending the proposition that all men are created equal. William James wrote that "Real culture lives by sympathies and admirations, not by dislikes and disdains; under all misleading wrappings it pounces unerringly on the human core." All of us are equal as children of God, and all Americans should be treated equally under the law, presumed to be innocent, and read their rights. As for the rest, let us have more sympathy and admiration, less dislike and disdain, and above all, let us pounce on the human core.


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