I pulled this meme off Linked In a moment ago.

I don’t know if it’s true that this is posted at a South African university. I do know that the truth of this hit me very hard. For in all the barking and biting and demanding and puerile bitching about how hard things are, for all the constant demands for shortcuts and hacks and fast tracks, none of that leads to excellence. Or competence.

It does lead to superficial, bullshit titles, no substance, and things like collapsing buildings and doctors easily bought off by big pharma. Politicians who are clueless about the constitution and a whole party terrified of educated women, especially those who are smart enough to choose not to have children if that is their preference.

Look, I can’t speak for you. But this is what I know:

Any shortcut I ever took cost me more than it was worth.

Any cheat I ever committed hurt a great deal more than any advantage it might have promised.

ANY time I avoided the real work, the cost was double or triple in my lack of integrity.

It was, never will be, worth it. If you want to know why we are a declining nation, re-read the meme. It is where we are right now. There is no side- stepping this.

Shortcuts mean short shrift.

Easy often leads to sloppy.

The back door to fame without the work costs all of us. Especially the one who cheated. Case in point: Exhibit #1 Lance Armstrong.

The lack of any kind of decent education got us today’s politicians. Case in point: Exhibit #2 Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert. Not all, but too many. But that’s for smarter writers than I am.

I find it so very interesting that the folks committed to doing the real work of earning the degrees, gaining the experience and valuing their solid, hard-won educations are quietly getting it done, without fanfare, without cheating, without posturing and demanding. They are simply doing the work.

So many of them are Black folks, quietly and largely without fanfare (with the single exception of LinkedIn) are getting promoted, elected, winning medals (while Angry Baby White Men scream CHEATERS at women who beat their records and their collective pants off, just saying). Case in point #2:

Male Coach Demands Gender Test for Olympic Silver Medalist After She Runs Faster than He Can
She beat his own personal record from back-in-the-day, and his only conclusion is that she must have cheated.

Of course he’s whining. She’s Black, beautiful, and faster than he was. Of course she has to be a he. Don’t get me started.

With any luck many of you, and you know who you are, are also going to become high school teachers and college professors, and doctors and specialists, where we might have a shot at saving our nation.

This is one reason why every fall, I speak at a conference for graduating Black PhDs, the largest gathering of its kind in the country. For my dollar, that is where I see the future.

My LinkedIn feed is all about diversity, and I regularly get announcements about Black, Hispanic, Asian and many other men and women, as well as LGBTQ++ folks who nailed their credentials the old fashioned way. They are being selected for top jobs, showing up to command posts in military and police and firefighter organizations. People with serious credentials.

Earned. No hacks. No shortcuts. No cheats. And despite the ridiculous claims that these multi-degreed, talented people “only got the job because they were (Black, Orange, Green, fill in the blank), NO, Sparky. It’s because too many of the rest of us got lazy. Sloppy. We wanted the title and the entitlement but not the sweat equity it took to get there on our own merits.

To that, please see:

Cheating at School Is Easier Than Ever-and It's Rampant
With many students isolated at home over the past year-and with a mass of websites offering services to answer…

Then there’s this:

85 Percent of Job Applicants Lie on Resumes. Here's How to Spot a Dishonest Candidate
According to HireRight's 2017 employment screening benchmark report, 85 percent of employers caught applicants fibbing…

So imagine what happens to a truly qualified candidate of color, when the person reviewing the resume is already biased against such candidates, and the assumption is that legitimately-earned qualifications are faked. I don’t need to go further. They end up failing because too many folks lied before they showed up.

Here’s how I feel about a future with a predominantly Black and Brown America: given what I see, the people I know, the competence I’ve seen of so many of those people, I wish that future were coming sooner so that I could live it.

There are still plenty of good people of all stripes who work very hard. For my dollar, however, it strikes me that the crop of politicians currently in power, including several very public nutwads and a whole bunch of folks who know nothing of civics or how it’s illegal to block someone on Twitter if you’re an elected official (but hey, that takes more than gun powder between your close-set eyes, Sparky) took a few too many shortcuts to power.

Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress …. But I repeat myself — Mark Twain

Hence, what we have: a confederacy of dunces. Not all, but too many. How else did we elect Trump?

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve — George Bernard Shaw

What’s coming, to my mind, looks a lot better. Because the above hand-lettered sign, whether it is an actual sign in South Africa or not, still speaks to why we have collapsing condos, sick people getting sicker, and a general population with the collective education of a newt and heading downward.

Education is the way out of slavery, poverty, ignorance. No wonder White folks- mostly Republicans, it seems) don’t want educated Black, Brown, Asian folks, most especially women. No wonder some of the worst areas where Delta has gone insane are among under-educated folks. No wonder fearful owners didn’t want educated slaves. Educated people win lawsuits. Mideastern terrorists are terrified of women like Malala.

Well-educated people, not cheats, move the world. Change lives, solve problems. Cheats and slackers make the problems, then make them worse.

There are a number of very smart, competent Millennials and Gen Z folks who write about this very thing on Medium. You can tell. They’ve got chops. People with real chops have proof. People without them flop badly, and unfortunately they take many others with them. To that:

The Bizarre, Infuriating Story of Philly Fighting COVID's Meteoric Rise and Swift Fall
A 20-something student with big ambitions and no medical experience thought he was the best person to lead Philly's…

You cannot hack your way to excellence. It’s a straw man. The world is on fire right now. Straw men don’t last long.

Ironwood and ebony last a lot longer.

I know what I’d prefer to lean against.

Don’t hack. Do the work. Earn your credentials.

You cannot fake excellence. And when the fire comes, and it’s coming, you will know what to do about it.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash