Trust the Experts, If You Dare

I received quite an invitation in the mail today. It was an opportunity to hear an “internationally-renowned expert on dignity” speak at the private school in my neighborhood. The event promised to show how dignity would “unlock potential” and “transform work environments” and so on. Her “ground-breaking” book had even “established” dignity as a key component of human interaction—who knew? This must be quite humorous to God.

You might wonder what it takes to become an expert in the area of dignity; I was curious, too. Surely it must require a sort of supernatural understanding of human nature, or a widely-lauded track record of treating people with the extraordinary and unbiased compassion that image-bearers deserve.

Like a good Googler, I reached for my laptop and lowered my expectations, knowing full well that most who claim expertise in human nature start with neurons, not the God of neurons. Plus, since the speaker professed an affinity for the Reverend Desmond Tutu, I assumed that her theory of dignity may diverge from mine; I was correct.

As it turns out, the speaker had delivered another speech a few years ago at Harvard, where she also works. Her expertise there must’ve gone unheeded, though, because the occasion of her Harvard speech was a symposium on “Developing Trust and Ethically Healthy Organizations through Humanistic Management.” If there is anything we know about Harvard now, it’s that ethics are not that important there at all—especially for its former president, Claudine Gay. So much for the promises of expertise.

Every year or so, a new crop of experts appears, making their rounds at schools, conferences, and corporate retreats, lecturing the unenlightened on the latest strategy for a successful and virtuous life. They are the Muses of LinkedIn and the wizards of TED—often in black tee shirts—and are full of the holy inspiration of neuroscience, technology and psychology. Their innovative life hacks will outsmart human nature while avoiding all the dusty inconveniences of the ancient paths.

For nearly any personal quandary, there’s an expert ready to transform your life (or your wallet) through their ground-breaking seminars, zoom sessions, or books. A quick bit of research proved that I could find experts on nearly anything: joy, black joy, gender, hope, self-care, inclusion, love and even kindness—and that’s not all. Being an expert can be quite lucrative, too. For this reason, many people have a vested interest in making DEI a mandatory path to virtue, one that is so unnatural and repulsive to humans that it demands experts who can enforce it through special—and ongoing—training sessions.

TED talks are among the easiest way to sample the silliness without leaving your home. Within about two minutes, I found a “love expert” who divorced her first husband after six months, not marrying again until age 75—a rather weak endorsement of her approach. Another speaker shares her expertise on finding soul mates, apparently drawing from her experience as a woman married to a man who identifies as a transgender woman. On a scientific note, one trending speaker believes we evolved from “aquatic apes.”

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