It’s Better to be Better

“The word “better” has fallen out of fashion in America. It makes people uncomfortable. Ranking some things as better or worse is divisive and controversial. Saying that certain values are better can become a slippery slope to thinking groups of people are better, particularly one’s own. I am sympathetic to these arguments.

But that doesn’t mean “better” and “worse” should be eliminated from national discourse.

I believe that learning is better than ignorance. Right answers are better than wrong ones. Thoughtful engagement is better than unquestioning belief, and genuine understanding is better than blind regurgitation.

I believe reality exists independent of our perception of it. Critical thinking and the scientific method are the best ways humanity has to uncover its secrets.

I believe people have lived with great minds and great ideas. We are better for knowing them.

I believe running a mile in nine minutes is better than running it in 10. Running a mile in 15 minutes is better than not running one at all.

I believe hard work is better than sloth. Kindness is better than selfishness. Freedom is better than slavery. Duty is better than purposelessness. Responsibility is better than entitlement. Truth is better than mendacity. Flourishing is better than misery. Hope is better than despair.

Some values are better than others and, dare I say, no one creed or group has an exclusive claim to them. They are part of our human nature. They belong to everyone.

How many of us can say that where we work and what we do aspires to these ideals on a regular basis? I can. I do. I am proud of it.”

– excerpt from Barry Fagin, Professor of Computer Science at The United States Air Force Academy. Recently named Colorado Professor of the Year
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