Soliloquy is a dramatic device used when a character speaks to herself, “relating thoughts and feelings, thereby also sharing them with the audience, giving off the illusion of being a series of unspoken reflections” (Wikipedia).
The following is a short soliloquy inspired by Google’s definition of merit and the question of “what = merit”. I wrote it in light of a crisis and awareness of racism in the Communication discipline and the ways that diversity and merit have been framed as antithetical.
The italicized words in the soliloquy come straight from the Google definition. In the soliloquy I am both speaker and listener. Interrogator and discipliner. Betwixt and between. Liminal.
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Are you meritorious? Are you excellent? Are you good?
To be meritorious is to be standard. Are you standard? Do you avoid drawing outside the lines?
To be meritorious is to be level. Are you level? For goodness sake, be level-headed, polite, and civil.
If you are not standard and you are not level, you will certainly not make the grade. Better do some extra credit if you ever hope to be worthy.
And take time to account for your virtue. You do want to be virtuous, yes? And praised?
Learn the right forms of virtue and you too may someday be deserving of distinction, worthy of credit, and entitled to eminence.
Just make sure to account for it in standard ways that show your quality. You need to clearly show your caliber in order to receive the right kind of attention.
What? You say you have different values and virtue from the level standard? Quality for you looks different? Your attention seeks non-standard reward?
Hush my darling.
Shhhh… Best keep that to yourself. Or better yet, morph. Simply change thyself.
If not, you may attract the wrong attention, worthy of punishment.
Do you know the people who are arbiters of merit? They get to say whether you are entitled to distinction. Only they have a right to praise you as qualified.
Do you want to earn their approval? Keep leveling. Keep standardizing. Keep accounting.
Someday, maybe, your efforts will warrant deservingness. Someday, maybe, they will achieve the mantel of quality.
Keep striving. Try just a wee bit harder. Because the criteria for excellence, distinction and praise are neutral––based purely on merit.