Sunday, January 08, 2006

A step by step review of Meritocratic Jesus.

En, The Students' Notebook

If you are christian and you are offended by this issue, this is the place for you to go.Here, i try to explain why this issue is actually in praise of the christian religion. I don't usually do this as the "point" of the story is meant to be discovered for yourself.

The First Frame shows Pontius Pilot.
Note* how Pontius Pilot is spelled as Pilot and not Pilate-showing that it is 2 different Pontius altogether.
Meritocratic Jesus incidentally tells Pontius that he has good news.

Jesus tells Pontius that he has a new idea that will change the world- The idea is meritocracy: according to wikipedia it means:

is strictly speaking a system of government based on rule by ability (merit) rather than by wealth or social position.

This is similar to what Meritocratic Jesus said, that God wants the Best to be rewarded with positions, power, etc..etc. There is nothing inherently wrong with this statement, letting the most capable rule is a very good idea... so we go on to the next frame..

Meritocratic Jesus tells us that the Roman Jews are the most capable and best to rule. He seems to be eager to please the most powerful in position.

Compare this to the real Jesus:

Luke 23:1-3
"Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying,
'We have found this man subverting our nation.
He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and
claims to be Christ, a king.' So Pilate asked Jesus, '
Are you the king of the Jews?'
'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied."

Note how differently Jesus and Meritocratic Jesus respond to the situation. Meritocratic Jesus says nothing that is subversive.. in fact he says what the jews wanted to hear.. whereas Jesus on the other hand is saying things that may subvert the power of the jews.

Thus, a clear difference between Meritocratic Jesus and Jesus is established. One panders to the rich and powerful, the other speaks for the poor and oppressed.. I don't see how you can relate Meritocratic Jesus to that of Christian belief...

Another important point about meritocracy is being raised, by what standards do we choose to elect those to power. Do we elect them on the basis of what they know in terms of theology? If so the Jews clearly have an advantage in this system, being already educated in judaism. Should that mean that God has given them the mandate of power to rule?

One of the key problems of meritocracy is that we do not define what the standards of "ability" are, and even when we do the problem remains contentious. What is to define a person more capable than the other?

In the realm of education , we use meritocracy to justify everything... We justify GEP with meritocracy, saying that the children who have scored good results in PSLE are too smart for the normal system and that they deserve a different system catered to their expressly different needs. I doubt the indicative ability of the PSLE, and i doubt its system in selecting gepers.

Jesus agrees to build the best schools for the sons of these powerful jews. He justifies it because he believes the jews, being the most "capable" in their knowledge of theology deserve to be justly rewarded, and be put in an advantageous position in the system.

Does that not cause class stratification, that people in a more ideal and advantageous system get to carry on legacy of their fathers?

Meritocratic Jesus refused to heal the sick... his justification is that this would snatch away the businesses of those who are good enough to find a cure. Again there is an emphasis on "merit". According to Meritocratic Jesus, the world is full of opportunities where those with the capability can take advantage of, he sees the terminally ill as an opportunity for the doctors to get richer. Those with merit will always benefit from helping the less fortunate. This does not always happen in real life, sometimes acts of altruism are just needed to end suffering.

More importantly, Meritocratic Jesus believes that a perfect society can be achieved on conditional terms. He believes that through the setting of incentives and conditions, great acts of charity can be achieved. Those with the Merit to do these deeds should and would be greatly awarded.

Lets look at how Jesus of Nazareth would have handled it:

Scripture reference: Romans 13:9 “Love your Neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14, John 13:34, I Corinthians 13:4
Concepts: Treat others like you would like to be treated. God loves everyone regardless of color, size, intelligence, social status, etc. Love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast . . .

Jesus preaches a doctrine of unconditional love . Love that is not motivated by the prospect of getting money. I seem to remember that Jesus went around healing the sick and feeding the hungry during my time in sunday school before i became atheist... someone correct me if i am wrong.

The main crux of the meritocratic issue:"What is to judge a person to be of ability? what is the standard of judging if there is to be a meritocratic society?"

Technically Titus Duraius did a wonderful job, he ran the organization without a hitch. Although his ethics leaves alot to be questioned, can we not say that he is not wrong due to his sheer competence?

In the world of meritocratic Jesus, judgement on one's ability is based on hard statistical measure.. How about other issues like morality? or ethical righteousness?

Jesus seems to have an answer:

5 "Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 "Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 "Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

8 "Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they shall see GOD

Jesus seems to play a large amount of emphasis on the purity of heart, the goodness of soul, etc etc.. intangible measures that cannot be counted as competency. A person may be competent without being moral.

This frame was added just to show how Meritocratic Jesus sells the idea of meritocracy to others. He tells others that the educated have great prospects, and everyone can be educated and smart if they try hard enough.
like:"If ylur son had tried hard enough to study he'd be able to enter RVHS (illustrative example only) and recieve the education he so fully deserves.."
Meritocratic Jesus believes that social standing, prospects and education are important aspirations for the everyday man... So important that he sells assessment books about how to have an edge in the exams. (Obviously , achieving this is one of the main pointers of his self-made religion.)

Also remember what Jesus Christ said instead of Meritocratic Jesus:
"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)
Jesus christ is clearly trying to tell you that no matter how good your social standing, prospects, or reputation which society judges you by, one can have the possiblity of being unable to be able to recieve spiritual salvation. One may be a rich man, but still inherit nothing in the kingdom of god.

Meritocratic Jesus gets what he deserves when he is betrayed by the immoral TiTus Duraius.

He somehow manages to bribe his way out of his situation.. The real jesus on the other hand(we are sorry to have drawn him so shoddy, we draw our comics in slightly more than an hour most of the time due to time constraints) died for his beliefs, and died for the sins of man.. Isn't this a powerful comparison? Showing that Jesus does not preach meritocracy.. in fact he preaches a very different doctrine.. I'm sorry if you found this picture offensive but it was supposed to solidify the argument and show that Jesus did not believe in meritocracy, and is very different from meritocratic jesus...

A juxtaposition of the real jesus to meritocratic jesus, who died for his beliefs and sacrificed himself for the sins of mankind is in the background.. while meritocratic jesus escapes scott free with his riches...

I thought this was clear enough to show that Christianity was being praised for its higher values.

Praising Jesus and singing songs about him isn't the only way to compliment a religion... You can also show the values that are opposite to what the religion believes and prove how dispicable they are...

I have nothing against meritocracy, i just believe that over emphasis on it changes the spirit of what meritocracy was intended to be. When the best of our students are isolated from the other students, classified, and trained to be different from everyone else, what do the words equality and democracy mean?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Of Meritocracy... and what it means to singapore

Throughglassdarkly, The Students' Notebook
It seems regardless of whatever some contemporary statesmen might tell you about the idea of meritocracy, they deserve to be commended for buying into an incredible joke.

Regardless of anything you may have heard, the truth is that meritocracy originated out there as a joke in some Englishman's book. Michael Young, aka known as Lord Young of Darlington (1915-2005), arguing that the British school system created a greater level of stratification, however jokingly, than the old class system, in his book "The Rise of the Meritocracy" foresaw a society that, buying into the "scientific" methods of measuring a person's IQ in order to determine the station of life that person should reach, simply produced a change in the pattern of inequality ... yet in the end, a fundamentally unequal society remains. He believed there are certain human rights that shouldn’t be distributed on the basis of merit. These include health care, education and police protection ... which today are much more easily available to the rich. Young goes on to say that: “It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others.”

“Ability of a conventional kind, which used to be distributed between the classes more or less at random, has become much more highly concentrated by the engine of education. A social revolution has been accomplished by harnessing schools and universities to the task of sieving people according to education’s narrow band of values. “

The Singapore education system deserves kudos for being one of the few in the entire world to actually think this is a good idea and implementing it for a number of years. Meritocracy has become a catch-all, a benchmark whenever it comes to assessing Candidate ability around election time to the existence of the GEP, to the advent of streaming. The kind of stratification becomes a whole set of articles to justify one's status in Singapore by, rarely in any other society does your education become a part of who you are when you introduce yourself.

And the ride is only about to get wilder.

And thus, if we listen to what another prominent intellectual, John Ralston Saul, has to say, it would be that meritocratic societies would grow increasingly mediocre. While meritocracy appears to mean that people of a certain calibre are placed together in order to learn from each other and improve together, the truth is that this system would only produce people who think increasingly alike. Sooner or later, that elite becomes cut off from the "unconscious society", the thoughts, mores and philosophies that make up the fabric of whole civilizations. We cannot have too many that think increasingly alike. Because if we do, we would create "heads and hands" without mediating "hearts" (to rather clumsily borrow an analogy from Metropolis.)
An education system, in bringing the children of the nation together, is in another way, not just a machine to create a workforce, but an ideal "heart" apparatus. It binds the citizens together in an unconscious, by highlighting their differences as well as their similarities. Actually, Singapore universities do know this, which is why at University there is a lack of streaming and the general student is more free to pursue a course of study according to his/her likings. That may be one thing that is still saving the best of Singapore's society as it stands.

The truth is: among ten fingers, none are the same on a single hand. Meritocracy does not realize that if you put thumbs together, you do not make a hand, you only make one all thumbs.