Elitism has earned an ugly name over the past decade or so. A sure way to accuse someone of having poor judgment or lacking real-world experience is to tar them with the “elite” label. The use of “elite” as a derogatory term has been most pronounced in politics. Political leaders sneer at elites – holding up underachievers as role models – while at the same time aspiring to become the elite of the political class. The “wealthy elite” are also villainized in political campaigns as people who don’t pay their fair share.
I would like to be elite. I like to say – mostly to myself or maybe to my immediate family – that I AM elite. It would be a shocking thing to claim or aspire to in a public conversation, though. Some of my elitism was earned: education, both formal and undertaken on my own, and some was just the lucky accident of my birth – I was born a Caucasian citizen of the wealthiest nation on Earth. Nobody likes to admit the fact that they have some claim to the status of elitism. The term has been damaged over the years.
I want to be elite, and I want others to want to be elite. In private moments I’m not ashamed of being well-read, or well-educated, or having a liberal mindset (in the open-to-all-ideas sense, not the political sense). I want to come out at the top of the heap. I think that the goal of a family, or a community or whatever group you choose to look at should be the creation of elite individuals: Jeffersons, Einsteins, Ataturks. You want people to rise above the average and lead.
I’m not there (yet). I’d like to be. To admit to wanting that would probably seem gross in most company, and I’m most comfortable making that claim on my semi-anonymous blog. We need elite people, and anyone who derides or attacks the elite is, well, an idiot. You can disagree with the particular ideas or approaches chosen by elite members of society, but in business, politics, science, art, religion, whatever area you choose to examine, you NEED an elite. It’s not the elite as determined by birth, or Ivy League education. It’s the elite chosen by intelligence; by drive; by perseverance. I don’t know when that became an ugly attribute in this country, but that attitude needs to disappear – and fast.