This week, I watched Netflix’s Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admission Scandal.
What surprised me most about the documentary is (1) the level of outrage towards parents helping their kids earn spots at America’s top colleges and (2) the calls to abolish the college rating systems.
Of course, the parents acted wrongly.
Newsflash: Money and access are two of the most powerful driving forces in U.S. society.
Of course, it would be nice to live in a place where all things were equal and the culture was less competitive; where anyone can get into Harvard.
Second newsflash: We live in a capitalistic society that values hierarchy and winning.
There were scenes where people were complaining because the top schools are becoming more and more competitive and increasingly exclusive.
Third newsflash: We – our culture – created Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Berkeley, USC, UCLA, Cornell, etc. (Stanford has a 4% acceptance rate.) The law of supply and demand. Everyone wants to get into the top schools. Every year the demand continues to grow.
What am I saying?
We cannot solely blame a person for acting according to the culture within the system. This goes back to this idea of “systems thinking.” If it happens in the system,
I know, I know. Personal responsibility, character, integrity, values, etc., etc., etc.
However, we cannot be shocked when we hear stories about people exploiting a system that makes it possible to be exploited.
Here’s the point: Culture is everything.
If you want to change the values of the people, it begins with changing the ideals the culture values.