I saw something beautiful this weekend.
It wasn’t a beautiful painting, or a magnificent building or a gorgeous man. I saw the beauty of a meritocracy in action.
I had the pleasure (or agony depending on how you look at it) of spending over 6 hours on the bowels of Hunter College elementary school while my son played chess match after chess match. Despite the crowded, windowless, smelly halls, and nervous parents, I saw tremendous beauty. Squished into the cafeteria were rows and rows of kids from all walks of life: white, Upper East Siders, Asian kids whose parents still speak in their native tongues, Indian brothers and sisters, African-American families, and the list goes on. None of these kids play because they are rich, or given an “advantage” or know “someone” or paid off some big wig in the league. No. These kids play because of their raw intelligence, strategic skills, and love for the sport. Period. And they respect one another for their ability to play. That’s it. It is a beautiful sight.
It’s so rare to see a such a gathering of minds absent of pretense, questions of “how did he get there?” or “who does she know?” Of course life isn’t a true meritocracy. So much is based on who you know or how much clout you have. But it doesn’t always to be that way. And there’s no reason not to strive for the ideal.
Despite his talent for chess, I don’t know if my son will continue to stick it out for years to come (the same goes for me!) But at least he’s had a taste of the beauty that comes from achievement based on merit alone.
Comment or tweet me your thoughts @beautyskew