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A meritocratic society is one in which, if you've got talent and energy, and skill, you will get to the top, nothing should hold you back. The problem is, if you believe in this system, you'll also believe in a society where those who deserve to get to the bottom also get to the bottom and stay there.
So, your position in life comes to seem not accidental but merited and deserved. And that makes failure seem much more crushing.
Never before have expectations been so high about what human beings can achieve with their lifespan.
We're told, from many sources, that anyone can achieve anything.
You can't have it all. So any vision of success has to admit what it's losing out on, where the element of loss is.
And the thing about a successful life is that a lot of the time, our ideas of what it would mean to live successfully are not our own.
"When we think about failing in life, when we think about failure, one of the reasons why we fear failing is not just a loss of income, a loss of status. What we fear is the judgment and ridicule of others."
A snob is anybody who takes a small part of you and uses that to come to a complete vision of who you are.
And the dominant type of snobbery that exists nowadays is job snobbery. You encounter it within minutes at a party when you get asked, "What do you do?" Depending on your answer, they decide how much attention you deserve from their part.
"It's perhaps easier now than ever before to make a good living. It's perhaps harder than ever before to stay calm, to be free of career anxiety."
"We are the first society to be living in a world where we don't worship anything other than ourselves. We think very highly of ourselves, and so we should; we've put people on the Moon, done all sorts of extraordinary things. And so we tend to worship ourselves. Our heroes are human heroes. That's a very new situation."
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