A Parable of Forced Equality

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New York wants to abolish programs and schools for gifted and talented students. There is a parable from the ancient world which seems to tell us why.

This story was told by both Herodotus, a Greek, and Livy, a Roman who lived some centuries after Herodotus. But I don’t think Livy lifted the story from Herodotus. Both presented it as a historical event, but it has much more the feel of a well-known parable.

The tyrant who ruled a certain city had one son to succeed him; but the young man didn’t know how he ought to go about being an effective tyrant. He asked his father, “How do you govern the city? How have you managed to stay in power for so many years?”

“I’ll teach you; it’s quite simple,” said the father.

Taking his son to a poppy field outside the city, the tyrant said, “Watch.” And with his cane he proceeded to knock the heads off all the poppies around them.

“This is how you rule the city,” he explained. “Even as I have cut all these poppies down so that none is higher than another, so have I maintained my power: by cutting down any man who rises to a certain height above the others, so that none is any greater than another, but all are equal; all are weak. I am the only one who towers over all. There is no one else whom they can turn to for a leader.”

You can see this sort of “diversity” has a very ancient pedigree. Tyrants have been cutting people down for thousands of years.

Fallen human nature hasn’t changed.

4 comments on “A Parable of Forced Equality

  1. If they were doing it in ignorance, that would be bad enough, but when they know exactly what they are doing, well… criminal is the only way to describe it.

  2. “There is nothing new under the sun,” said The Preacher. I can apply this to our present President – he is a leader, a head above many, so he is despised. They did they same thing to Ronald Reagan when he became President. The loved both these guys until they rose to power above them.

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