Saturday, May 9, 2009

Resistance is Futile (and Unwise): Excellence & Oppression

Often people are wisely concerned about the relationship between examining and oppression. A powerful historical example of oppressive examining is the "literacy tests" that were used to deny the vote to African Americans in the South from the 1890s through the 1960s.

The other side of the examining coin is presented in this history of the relationship between barbers and surgeons. Suffice it to say that we all may be thankful that the examining of surgeons is much more rigorous than it once was.

A third interesting example comes from the film Jazz. Listening to Wynton Marsalis wax poetic about Louis Armstrong, we are reminded of the roles that genius can play.

Incompetence in the professions is dangerous. People do not die on the operating table because of an incompetent chaplain, but incompetent and unethical ministers have done much damage.

Ministers have also inspired. While not every minister may have the genius of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we may all--ministers and laity--be inspired by his example.

Resistance to examining is futile and unwise. It's important to make judgments about competency, excellence, and genius. However, it's also important that such judgments and the processes by which they are reached are congruent with the first (the inherent worth and dignity of every person) and second (justice, equity, and compassion in human relations) principles of UUism.

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