Columnists > Voices

Egalite, fraternite, diversite

Should Andree sue because she will never be a ballerina?

Issue: "No man's land," May 10, 2003

I shall never be a ballerina. This seems to me grossly unfair. Why should I suffer profound frustration of a dream (we only go around once, after all) just because fate endowed me with neither a lithe and sinewy body nor far-seeing parents to stuff me into a tutu at age 4? Isn't there a school out there for 51-year-old, 5-foot-3, slightly long-in-the-tooth matrons who belatedly discover their raison d'etre? Why should the boundaries of my selfhood be impinged on by either my nature or your inconvenient existence? Come to think of it, why shouldn't I be entitled to everything that you have? This is a free country! A democracy! We are all equal!

Shards of recent events swirl and then reconfigure themselves like a Picasso canvas in my mind-the dust-up over the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, the Supreme Court battle over admissions policies at the University of Michigan's undergrad and law schools. The common denominator is the crowds clamoring at the doors of privilege, demanding entrance under the banner of "democracy" and "fairness" and "equality"-all vaguely defined, all flung like incantations. (Screwtape's department of philology works overtime.)

Like Pharaoh's two dreams-the one about seven cows, and the one about seven heads of grain-the Masters and Michigan details are different but the meaning is the same: A new god reigns, risen from the ashes of Christianity, and its name is Diversity-though true diversity is the very thing it hates. Ruthless and insatiable, it devours its children, bulldozing all differences and swinging its scythe to lop off every head of grain that sticks up an inch above his neighbor.

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Yurii Andreievich, elbowing past the chaos in Smolensky Square (Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak), is returning from the front. But a sea change in culture has occurred in his absence. He knocks on the door of his own home, only to find it answered by a humorless party apparatchik. It has been decided, collectively, that no one should have a stick of furniture more than anyone else, and so the rooms (renamed "living spaces") of the once grand house are now parceled out to the comrades. The doctor is embarrassed at his former wealth and pronounces the prescribed apologies for all that stands out from the norm, in quality or beauty.

The University of Michigan and other ivy leagues are apologizing too. They repent in sackcloth and special point allowances in their admissions formula for a past elitist emphasis on excellence. Of course all kinds are admitted now, and the "living spaces" are crammed with a rainbow of friends carefully chosen to placate political correctness by admitting no differences of merit. Vive la diversitŽ! Let no one suggest that such diversity is a sham. Let no one ask whether a palette of colorful humanity who may all believe the moon is green cheese is truly diverse, or just a Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum. Does the Michigan law school really want diversity? Let the administration show its sincerity by beating the bushes for applicants who believe in absolutes, whose starting point for law is the covenantal word of God. There would be diversity worth speaking of and not just wallpaper.

Ours is an age when the person who timidly suggests that different gifts have been endowed by the Creator ("Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?" Are all ballerina material? Are all Ivy League law school material?) will be considered a madman. The less courageous will shrink in fear, reminiscent of the scene in Amos 6 where a lone survivor cowers in the corner of a house, and has this whispered exchange with his shaken relative: "'Is there still anyone with you?'... 'No'; and he shall say, 'Silence! We must not mention the name of the Lord.'"

"I'm as good as you" is what democracy devolves to in a political atmosphere of sloppy thinking, according to C.S. Lewis. It becomes "a vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence-moral, cultural, social, or intellectual.... Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not." Let us do better than that.

And as far as frustrated desire goes, not much you can do about that, I suppose. Nor am I a person who thinks there is a solution to every problem under the sun. The ultimate solution is the return of Christ, of course. But in the interim, we cultivate humility, contentment, and gratitude for what we do have. And I can live a life worthwhile though I shall never be a ballerina.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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