Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just Who are the 'Elite'?

I don't understand the term 'elitest'.

Oh I know what it means. It means, 'the practice of or belief in rule by an elite' or 'consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group'. But it the word 'elite' has crept into the public dialogue in a way that is confusing to me.

Are the 'elite' the educated?

Are the 'elite' those who have the capacity to shape public opinion?

Are they rich?

Are they they people whose heritage suggest a type of entitlement with regard to power, money, to place their imprimatur on political and popular culture?

I'm worried about the use of the word 'elite'. The way we invoke the word now approaches a very slippery slope.

It has become a victims word. It is now what we call people who are able to make their case in thoughtful and thought provoking ways.

It is used to describe people who ask hard - and not so hard questions. Sometimes questions to which we ought to have answers. Its a word used to describe people by who embarrass us by asking us such questions when we don't have the answers.

The people who are not 'elite' are 'ordinary people'. They are the people, who, by our use of the word, don't have the education; like hot dogs instead of creme brulee and who drop the 'g's' at the end of words ending in 'ing'.

'Ordinary people' are hard working.

'Ordinary people' are patriotic.

'Ordinary people' are 'the salt of the earth'.

'Ordinary people' are people with 'values'.

'Ordinary people' don't dither.

'Ordinary people' are 'plain spoken'.

'Ordinary people' are decisive.

The 'elite' are not?

And what if the 'ordinary people' win?!

What if we devalue the pursuit of educational attainment; what if the 'ordinary people' make the money? What if common sense replaces critical thinking? What if 'plain spokeness' replaces the capacity to clearly, if not eloquently, make one's case? What if 'decisive action' replaces thoughtful reflection? What if the ability to shout down an opponent, becomes the proof of being 'right', and we no longer seek to learn to be persuasive?

Will cheap cigars replace pipes?

Will honey buns replace eclairs?

If 'ordinary people' win, won't they become 'elite'?

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