A Message to Chinese Readers

精英的傲慢  作者:迈克尔·桑德尔

I wrote this book to challenge my students,university students in China,and successful college graduates everywhere,to rethink the meaning of success.Those who win admission to top universities,or who get good jobs and make a lot of money,are tempted to believe that our achievements are due mainly to our effort and hard work.We easily forget the luck and good fortune that helped us on our way.This way of thinking is familiar in competitive market societies,in which the pressure to achieve begins at a young age and becomes especially intense during high school and college years.Consider,for example,the tremendous pressures placed upon young people as they prepare,over years of cram courses and late-night studying,to take the gaokao college entrance examination.

Those who succeed in competitive societies come to believe that their success is their own doing,and that they therefore deserve the rewards it brings;they also tend to believe that those less accomplished than themselves deserve their fate as well.

This way of thinking about merit and achievement,about who deserves high pay and social esteem,has a corrosive effect on social cohesion.It creates a deep divide between winners and losers,and widens the distance between elites and their fellow citizens.It also harms the winners:believing that our fate is in our hands creates enormous pressure to achieve—to please our parents,or teachers,and ourselves.Many gifted young people—in the U.S.,China,and around the world—are harmed by these intense competitive pressures.Consider the growing mental health problems among young people,including anxiety,depression,and rising rates of suicide.This book asks how we can find a less anxious,more generous,more humble way of understanding success,one that points us toward a greater sense of responsibility for the common good.

I regret that the pandemic has prevented me from visiting China for some time.I look forward to the day,I hope soon,when I will be able to return to China to continue my conversation with Chinese readers about justice,merit,and the meaning of success.


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