Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye. – Helen Keller
From the first days of our socialization into this wide, wide world, we have been taught things that were supposed to make us grow up into better individuals. We were introduced to the notion of politeness and were sanctioned if we were rude. Respect and integrity were displayed everywhere, in movies and newspapers, as virtues that anyone should have if we wanted to be honest and responsible citizens of this ‘perfect’ world. We were shaped to fit. And those who didn’t went straight to the societal trash.
But, as a child, I did not understand any of that, because I was still learning the notion of right and wrong. However, some less glorious qualities still confused me. I did not understand the word ‘jealousy’. I did not know that I had to be jealous if my sister got a bigger Christmas gift than me. It wasn’t until my mother told me to stop being jealous that I actually felt jealousy. It was then that I began being jealous of the new clothes of the little girls I saw on the street, of the amount of toys my cousins always played with when we went to visit them. It is when we are exposed to an emotion that we begin to feel its impact on our being. The challenge is to tame it; as emotions can be dangerous when we forget to control them.
Nevertheless, I understood principles. I grew up believing that honesty was the best policy and that being fair brought you further than those who weren’t. I enjoyed the idea that the world was just, and doing your best was what was asked to be successful. How wrong I was.
In a society like Mauritius, where the Elite reigns over the common people, meritocracy is a fairy tale. No matter how hard you work, you will probably never reach the professional position of the one in control, but only of the one being controlled. The glass ceiling does not exist for those with power, money or reliable social relations. Sadly, it only does for those who have none of these three.
How do you expect the future generation of young adults to believe in hard work and meritocracy if both factors are ignored when a competing candidate *knows* the CEO? Favouritism is a common factor in Mauritius and it is starting to annoy the hell out of me. I want to work hard and earn what I deserve. But society is forcing me to cheat if I want to be successful. Forcing is a strong word. But it is what I feel. It isn’t fair for someone who has grown up believing in fairness to be told to accept favouritism as a means to an end. It isn’t right. The Elite taught us that. But then the old generation tells us to take ‘shortcuts’ if we want to get what we want? Do you realize how messed up this is? Trampling on common principles to bypass the one who worked hard his whole life to get what he deserves isn’t right. Using connections for a promotion isn’t right. Using family ties for a job acceptance isn’t right. The Elite teaches humility to shut the common people up. They use religion to calm down riots and make the common people go back to work so that they can make more profits on the People’s scarred, bent and rough back. The Elite cannot understand what the People feel. They do not care. Yet, they claim they do.
The only way to end all of this is through exposure. Exposing all transactions and documents explaining why things were done a certain way would clear out all blurry situations. Then, people will stop asking questions, and others will stop hiding answers. The Elite will be Forced to accept Meritocracy as a way of living. Then the new generation will feel like what they do is going to bring real results, not the made up ones used to slow down stubborn hard workers. They will feel that it will be worth it.
I’m not saying that our world is perfect, or will ever be, for that matter. But stop trying to fight for equality because it may never happen is like stopping the fight to eradicate poverty because it may always exist. We must never give up; it is our role to make a change. We are the change.