A Quote From Jeff Cooper

This preoccupation with equality is another symptom of the degeneracy of The Age of the Common Man. In the first place it is an illusion, since men are not created equal, except in the political sense. Everyone is better or worse than someone else in a particular example of his capacities, and pretending that this is not so is simply silly. Excellence, not mediocrity, should be everyone’s goal, and it is hard to think of anything, from gardening to crossword puzzles, at which someone may not excel. In some cases, such as Benjamin Franklin or Theodore Roosevelt, excellence is quite obvious. But excellence need not be obvious in order to be worthy.

This dim-witted passion seems to be a product of the French Revolution, but it diminished in the 19th century, and did not reappear with full virulence until about the time of the Vietnamese War. It is the battle cry of the losers, who do not want anyone to appear good at anything, lest that make some other person feel bad. These people value “self-esteem” as anyone’s individual prerogative, rather than “self-respect,” which must be earned; and self-respect is by definition not something which may be granted by other people. Self-respect, like happiness, is a by-product of accomplishment, and accomplishment is available to all in some line of endeavor. But accomplishment does not come without effort, and the person who gives up because the struggle is hard deserves neither achievement nor happiness.

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