On July 29, 2009, I attended my son-in-law’s graduation exercise from the Houston, Texas Police Academy. It was quite an event with lots of pomp and circumstance. Marvin graduated ranked 7th in a class that began with 70 participants, 66 graduated. I am very proud of his effort and accomplishment. The graduates came in all sizes, races, and genders. The top 3 graduates were recognized as “high achievers” and received special accommodations.
Ranking and achievement have dominated my thinking since the ceremony. Who are the achievers and why? What achievement does each of us seek…or do we seek any? Should we?
I sure wish I had all these answers. Maybe I should stop thinking so much and actually achieve something myself!
I just wonder if all the candidates at the police academy began as equals. As I said, they came in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But on day number one they were equals. At graduation, 6 months later, only 3 received accommodations. Sure each of them came to day one with all of their experiences prior to that day, but in that line, on that day, none of that mattered, they were equal….or were they?
If they were all equal, why then, did they all not receive the high achievers award on July 29? My belief as to why is this…they had equality of opportunity, not equality of skills, intellect, and drive. They absolutely were not guaranteed an equality of outcome.
I truly believe that we cannot and should not attempt to assure an equality of outcome to all persons. I am an American capitalist and I believe that God has endowed us with certain unalienable rights, among those are the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I believe that God has also blessed each of us with certain abilities unique to each of us individually. He provides us with a certain amount of natural skill and intellect. He gives some more than others, but to each, something. My question is this: does He provide each of us with the same ability to summon drive, determination, and ambition? Is this what is meant by having free will?
No matter your education level, no matter your family background, no matter the direness of your current circumstances, opportunity awaits. If you are waiting for a guarantee of an outcome you just may be waiting forever. If you are waiting for an opportunity, open your eyes, they are all around you. Your achievement depends on you. How bad do you want it?
George Bernard Shaw put it this way:
“I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on
in this world are the people who get up and look for the
circumstances they want. And if they can’t find them,
Hard work, determination, and ambition will not guarantee success any more than size, strength, and brainpower. But sitting around waiting on success to interrupt you is a guaranteed path to failure and ruin.
I am curious if those 3 police officer achievers simply decided they were going to be the best and attain the awards ….or if their talents were so great it just came easy for them. I choose to believe the former. They all began as equals…and these 3 made a choice that made them unequal.
I think we do an injustice today by not recognizing those who achieve. Those are the ones I want on my team, whether it is a sporting event, a business endeavor, a mentor, or a charity fundraiser. We may have all started as equals but we sure don’t end up that way.
Another quote from Thomas Jefferson sums it up:
“There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of
There you have it.