Last week I went with a friend to see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. It was very good, with spectacular special effects and some surprisingly mature themes for a movie based on a comic book superhero.
Among the many ads before the movie, there was an Olympic-themed one which promised the world to the Batman audience. It blared out that old mantra – with which we are all regaled today – that each of us is possessed of “amazing abilities”.
The media pumping out of the London Olympics hint at much the same thing – that the contestants are ordinary people, who through dedication and hard work have turned themselves into godlike Olympians. Well, maybe some have, but the vast majority are gifted with that something extra: the ‘X Factor’, let’s call it.
Perhaps the worst offenders of this insidious rubbish of ‘prizes for all’ – that we each have got what it takes and that we are all winners – are the teachers’ training colleges, pushing their skewed and fanciful notions of education and throwing out so many of the tried and tested old certainties. And let’s not forget the politicians who, as always, have let them get away with it.
Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, but most of us are ordinary. We are not winners, born with great intellects or reservoirs of Olympic-winning genes. We plod along making the best of what we’ve got, paying the bills – though even that gets ever harder these days – and not nurturing any illusions as to our ‘amazing abilities’.
Propagating this cruel myth was that disastrous charlatan Tony Blair, who, along with his many other sins, set out to raise university entries to wholly unrealistic levels. He and his political and academic cohorts insisted that no fewer than half of us had the ability to benefit from a university education, when the truth was that by far the majority would have suited vocational qualifications. In order to achieve their purpose, they dumbed down and degraded qualifications year after year while, all the time (surprise, surprise), trumpeting the ever rising number of passes.
Employers saw it differently, though, as did even the universities. They complained that the entrants reaching them were not fit for purpose, that they lacked even the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, and that they had to spend precious time and resources in getting them over this initial hurdle before they could even begin to put them to work.
Our society today not only faces economic meltdown, but it is peopled with individuals with wholly unrealistic expectations. Wives expect perfect husbands and husbands expect perfect wives; the magazines tell them so. Divorce is easier than ever! If you’ve fouled up, try someone else. Why bother seeing if you can identify what’s gone wrong? Worry about the kids later!
School leavers – little emperors and empresses to their parents – are shocked that their teachers, who promised them so much and waxed lyrical about their abilities, have lied to them. These unfortunates, who were conned into spending precious years chasing Mickey Mouse degrees due to their lack of ability, are shocked all over again when they find that the world of work is not the least impressed that they are a graduate in achieved a BA in Golf Management, Surf Science or Third World Development.
Unable to get jobs, in so many cases, and certainly not ones commensurate with what they were told their degree would bring them, they look with horror and depression at the mountain of debt they were encouraged to build up while they were chasing moonbeams. Half their working life will be spent paying off those worthless degrees. This has to be the cruellest deception of them all.
Realism is the thing most lacking in our young people today. It is not their fault; parenting skills, the ability to discipline along with standards of probity have all evaporated. With, in so many cases, couch potato, disinterested parents who bought them off from troubling them, what role models did they have? Bad tempered expletives were, everywhere, the order of the day. And those who should have known better outside the house made a bad situation worse by further indulging them and encouraging false expectations.
Then along came the lottery millionaires followed in quick succession by Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor, Big Brother and the ‘Victoria Beckham factor’ (i.e., marry someone rich). Anyone can strike it lucky! Fame is the name of the game. Just look at what happened to Victoria, Jade Goody and Jordan! Why bother with the hassle of applying yourself to your studies when you can achieve it all and more by a lucky and lucrative break into the dream world of Celebrity?
Victoria – who admitted to never having read a book (though, would you believe, she’s currently into Fifty Shades of Grey. Watch out, ‘Goldenballs’, she’ll be coming with the cuffs next!) – couldn’t even sing, and poor Jade couldn’t string a coherent sentence together.
Tragically, there is not a lot that can be done for the present, lost generation, so cruelly betrayed by the left-leaning liberal establishment. But hope is on the horizon for the next. Reforms are in train which may well turn things round. We must pray that they will, for a chill wind is blowing from the East, which promises only to get chillier.
One thing only will save us: a knowledge-based, productive and hard-working workforce, as it alone has any hope of competing. The cosy world of an easy, unopposed living which the West has enjoyed for half a millennium is coming to an end. May the best man (or woman) as they are saying this very day at the London Olympics, win.