The third degree: aim for gold


Welcome to the Third Degree: hard, brief weekly questions that force reflection and response. By trusting and respecting your instincts, your knowledge, your exploration and your determinations, this week we are targeting: The elite.

With the Olympics ending today, is it timely and appropriate to contextualize the elite, as the Olympians are so commonly known?

If we elevate and appreciate the elite, what about the elitism? Is it a question of actions, limits and perception? Does a healthy role model, some humility, gratitude, and a love of opportunity and country correctly reflect the breadth of performance and of the person? Do opposing examples push back?

Does the elite only apply to sport? What about medicine? Would you prefer an elite doctor from the highest caste of ability and respect or Dr. Harvey Bag-0-Donuts from Sputum U?

When the media elite treats the political elite with kid’s gloves rather than the iron fist of investigation, are people, politicians and certainly headlines suspect?

Should we value elite plumbers over shoddy philosophers? Is ranking inherent in our daily thinking and actions. Are we instinctively looking for the elite, the best available or what we can afford?

What if the object of the need was your child? Satisfied with mediocrity?

Therefore, are elite parents necessary? Can you describe the key qualities that assess the parental and elitist distinction? Is hard love one of them? Are you in a real partnership with teachers, professors, institutions? Do you know the curriculum and the influencers?

Can we be equal as Americans while recognizing and appreciating an elite attitude that strives for excellence and is ready to work for it.

In any business, if elite status is earned and deserved, should we celebrate such an accomplishment, while loathing snobbery or prejudice?

Is our nation’s greatest challenge to encourage the pursuit of excellence that reinforces Whitehead’s notion of a “habitual view of greatness?” So, can we, will we, live up to the arduous task of continually building a society of deserved promises for all our people?

As Americans, can we reap the gold, generation after generation, by embracing the elite in our own lives and communities? Will we prosper as a people and a nation if we do less?

Socrates recalls: “Life without examination is not worth living. The exams will continue in “The Third Degree”. The answers and the actions are yours.

John Borling, a retired U.S. Air Force Major General, is a highly decorated fighter pilot who has served in senior command and staff positions around the world. He was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for over six and a half years. Now an author, speaker, business leader and citizen, he is the founder of Service over Self America. (see

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