August 11 , 2004
When it comes to standards, ask these
As I am about to enter college, a major discussion point
has been affirmative action. Many universities across
America employ an affirmative-action program. I personally
believe the best qualified should be accepted regardless
of race. Allowing sub-par students admission because
they are considered a minority is still a form of racism.
Does being politically correct in this situation debase
the integrity of our nation's education system?
Long ago, my father passed along an interesting insight.
He said that minor surgery happens to other people. When,
as a young man, I asked for the meaning of the statement,
my father replied, "When a surgeon was cutting on
me, the surgery was always major." Other people,
however, could call their medical procedures minor. But
Dad's were major. Perhaps this inherited perspective
has convinced me that when I am placing my life (survival)
in the care of other people -- then, just like my Dad,
I feel my situation is major, and my requirements for
the surgeon's skills and performance are uncompromising.
So, given that simple parental wisdom, what might each
individual reader's responses be to the following six
- What is level of surgical skill do you expect
when you are on the operating table?
- Would you be willing to accept a person's professional
certification of competence simply because he or
she was part of a quota system?
- Will you accept a lesser set of medical or technical
qualifications, simply because the "playing field" in
our history, or in their professional specialty,
has not been level?
- Will you tolerate someone hired to fix your
automobile's brakes or steering who lacks the talent
and skill required to confidently make these repairs
simply because he or she was "included" in
the mechanic's certification process? Would you stake
the lives of your family on that?
- Will you be happy to work with a pharmacist
whose credentials were marginally acquired, because
in a politically correct world lesser talented people were
licensed in order to fulfill a quota system? Would
you trust the medicines dispensed by such a person -- even
if a mistake could be life threatening?
- Do you want to fly with a pilot who may have
mastered most of the skills, but not all of them,
simply because it was determined that selection of students
for pilot training should not be based solely upon
aptitude or talent?
Sooner or later, standards matter. In some professions,
when mistakes are made, people die. As much as we want,
and need, for everyone to move forward in achieving
life's greatest personal and professional rewards --
excellence still counts. We want the best runners to
represent our nation in the Olympics. Should we want
anything less in other walks of life? Everyone can
and should be afforded opportunity. Everyone can try
out for the team. But not everyone wins a gold medal.