The Myth of Elitism

I had the pleasure of watching the Palme d’Or-winning film ‘The Triangle Of Sadness on Hulu the other night. The movie highlighted the differences made in society for the rich. It illustrated the privileged due to their money and position and those who serve them in order to make a living. During the first dinner on a luxury yacht cruise, a lovely old couple was enjoying dinner while visiting with others at their table. When someone asked them what business that they were in they responded nonchalantly that their company made hand grenades and land mines. They noted that a recent economic downturn had been difficult for the business but that they were soldiering on.

A Cruise Staff meeting was held just prior to the elite passengers boarding where the head of staff reminded the group that the passengers were always right and that if they did whatever the passengers requested it would redound to their benefit with large monetary tips from the rich before they disembarked. She then led them in an uproarious cheer of, ‘Money…Money…Money!’

The evening of Captain Dinner…the seas were exceptionally rough. As the passengers began to consume their heavily cream-laden and rich gourmet food…they began to vomit. Soon everyone was throwing up and the staff was attempting to clean up the mess. As the volatile evening progressed and the sick got sicker…pirates lobed a grenade onto the luxury and vomit-strewn yacht. The gentleman and his lady picked up the grenade and she said, ‘Why it is one of ours…!’

The survivors of the explosion were tendered to a nearby island. There was one of the staff with them. They quickly discovered that she understood how to survive and they quickly became her servants in the expediency of eating and having a warm fire. The Staffer rose to her newfound elite prestige and began to give orders and to meat out punishment to those who did not follow her directives. Suddenly the roles of slave and master were reversed. The rich did not mind so much as they knew how to do little and they were hungry and cold at night.

So it is with us. We have taken several cruises through the years and I am struck by the herculean hours that the staff works to make our cruise enjoyable with a broad smile and weary eyes.

No matter what organization you are a part of there are a few at the pinnacle and many at the bottom. It is a myth that the 5% of our country got there by their abilities and their brain power. It is a myth that they arrived at the top because somehow they pleased God more than the rest of us. It is a myth that some are born to be leaders and the rest require the blessing of a leader.

Often I made the case to leaders at my University that they should seek to understand and avail themselves of the tremendous talent that they were surrounded with. I contended that there were many in the Civil Service ranks that could aid Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale if they were only called upon. Sadly most leaders can not see beyond their noses. Titles and the novelty of bringing someone new and different and especially from the outside usually grabbed the brass ring.

The conclusion of the movie demonstrated how loose the trappings of elitism are. The Staffer and a young woman who was a passenger as well as the girlfriend of the man that the Staffer had chosen to sleep with due to her sudden elite status among the survivors discover that they are marooned on an island that has a luxury resort on it. The rich woman tells the Staffer that she will take care of her and that perhaps she will make her an assistant. The Staffer lowers the large rock that she was holding behind the young rich woman’s head…

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