Over the holiday weekend I witnessed it once again. It’s been around seemingly forever, and yet it still can make me uncomfortable. Obviously, it makes many uncomfortable; otherwise, society wouldn’t struggle dreaming up creative ways to avoid it. We instead label the struggle and scheming as something else… something that sounds better… but something it’s not…
One by one, the kids lined up. The boys to the left, the girls to the right. The oldest maybe 13, the youngest near 5. Time to choose.
“I pick you!” said the first captain, after quickly yet carefully assessing the potential prowess of the 20 plus peers before him. “I pick Jackson!” said the next. And so the process continued until all were chosen.
The frail little 5 year old was last. The look on her face revealed little from a faraway glance. I wondered how she felt being chosen last.
Chosen last. Even worse? Not chosen.
Therein lies the problem. That’s what’s hard and often uncomfortable. When people are selected for various activities or honors, someone is always chosen last or not even chosen. I don’t like it on “Survivor.” I didn’t like it in Saturday’s whiffle ball game. Witnessing the one chosen last makes me uncomfortable.
My sense is that such discomfort is shared by more than me. No ethical one appreciates another inherently deemed as “the worst of these.” So the question is: what are we to do? What are we to do with the one with the perceived less ability? Less prowess? Hardest circumstances?
Those questions have historically been challenging for society to wrestle with. We either ignore the discomfort — or in a currently increasing mantra, we work to keep that selection process from ever happening. Allow me to illustrate…
When prom was hosted by Kaynor Tech High School in Waterbury, Connecticut this month, the principal of the school altered the selection process for king and queen. Proclaiming that everyone deserves “the same opportunity,” Principal Lisa Hylwa — rather than allowing students to vote for the winner — had prom participants instead put their names in a box; the teenage royals were then drawn at random. Yes, a random king and queen.
According to Hylwa, a chosen king and queen could potentially “spark jealousy, mean behavior, or bullying.” The random drawing was, in her opinion, wiser. In other words, the principal desired to keep the selection process from ever happening.
Now as admitted at the onset of this posting, it’s uncomfortable to witness the one chosen last or the ones never chosen. Yet it seems equally painful (and reeking of a very stiff, political correctness) to suggest that the election process must cease to exist. The reality is that not all persons are qualified for prom king, not all politicians can win an election, and not every basketball player will be selected in the NBA draft.
It seems to me that there is an increasingly developing mindset that each of us should be so qualified — that we should have this “fair shot” or opportunity at all. The challenge is that the full manifestation of that logic is absent of the truth that we are each created with different gifts; we aren’t all equal. We each have different skills, different gifts, varied intensities of ambition, work ethics, and God-given abilities. To ignore them — and eliminate any process of election — seems equally uncomfortable. Man can’t control something God created.
Friends, I don’t have all the answers; don’t conclude I feel that I do. My strong sense is simply that this idea that all must have equal opportunity is creating an entitlement sense that lacks the wisdom to recognize individual gifting. To eliminate the selection process — and thus any voting of kings and queens — is unwise.
FYI: My youngest son was a part of Saturday’s whiffle ball game. Of the 20 plus kids, he was one of the last chosen. Did I mention he has Down syndrome? Yet did he grimace and fret as it neared the end of the selection process? Was he upset about being picked close to last?
That adorable 10 year old jumped up and down, eager to play, thankful to be a part of a team. He has many gifts — most not exhibited on a base path. He knows that. Hence, if we could all be a little more like him…
(P.S. He does have a great arm.)