In light of the NYT’s article about society’s value system that draws rigid and absolute lines between truth/fact and opinion/beliefs, I decided to write this short opinion piece.
Truth and fact, in an ideal world, are the same. But this is not an ideal world. To use another quote, “even the devil can cite scripture for its purpose.” Facts can be manipulated. In a Fox News world, there is such a thing as “alternate fact.” I remember during the 2012 presidential campaign, Rasmussen and other right wing pollsters were showing “evidence” (facts) that Mitt Romney was winning, and then Nate Silver arrived with his statistical/mathematical predictions showing President Obama in the lead. Of course there was one truth (one of these men was in the real and only one would win). Up until election night, Rasmussen showed Mitt Romney winning. There was a perfect example of how “facts” could be created/manipulated and altered to mask the truth. The truth is intrinsic. Or, at the very least, natural or complementary to the laws of nature (the earth rotates around the sun). And there can only be one truth. Facts are not intrinsic and can be manipulated to create “alternate” or “fake” truths.
Regarding morality. Morality can be relative, insofar that we do not live in a true meritocracy, but a society ripe with nepotism, cronyism and legacy recruiting/hiring. While I agree that cheating is immoral. Our world is imperfect. It is factual that our society values wealth and success above all else, for example, poverty and failure. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But, this wealth-and-success based value system punishes those who are poor because they are deemed to have failed in society.
The right wing reasoning is that if you are poor, it means you don’t work hard enough or that you are lazy. This is not the truth. Poverty is complex and cyclical. In a society that offers opportunities to those who are born wealthy or have connections, it is hard to gain access to the means to better one’s life, especially when those means compete with basic survival interests (shelter, food, etc).
The poor often live paycheck to paycheck. If they don’t work, they can’t pay for rent, mortgage or food. They cannot then focus on educational or professional attainments if they have no place to live or food to eat. For many people, in this context, if one has to compete against those who are affluent (rewarding the wealthy/ successful is immoral, too), it makes sense to cheat. For example: Wentworth Johns III is guaranteed a spot in Harvard Law because his father and grandfather before him have attended HL, and the dean of HL golfs with his daddy. How can Trayvon Jones compete with that with no connections or wealth?
Here’s a personal experience story. About four years ago, I was hired for a contract position at a Fortune 500 company. During my stay, I was repeatedly asked how I got the position. I found out, during breakfast with the president (required for new employees), that all the other ten or so interns, summer students, contract employees, had relations in the company. The president kept saying to so-and-so: how’s your sister, brother, father, e.t.c., and then he turned to me: who are you related to? I loved working at the company, but I think to myself, had the woman who hired me given the position to her children (which she could’ve done, because it’s encouraged by the company), I would’ve been out of luck.
In college, while I struggled to find employment, I knew a girl whose mother, a bank manager, hooked her up with a bank position for the summer break. The contract position at that Fortune 500 company was the key (experience) to me finding my current full -time employment. Who will help low-income kids with no connections and access to these big corporations, government agencies?
I guess what I am saying is- that if Trayvon Jones wants to embellish his accomplishments or even use Affirmative Action, I am all for it. He needs not feel bad, since many of the people in those companies are not there because of merit (a lie told by those in advantageous positions, in order to discredit systems that help the poor, and unconnected gain equal footing in society).