As you probably know by now, several high-profile actors and corporate executives paid millions of dollars in bribes to get their children into top universities.
Journalists describe it as the biggest college admissions scandal in American history.
This incident reveals many sad truths. Some people feel entitled to unearned privileges. They break the law to get what they want.
And some students have no compunction about lying and cheating to get into a school where they don’t belong. All of this is true.
But I think there is a tremendous bright side.
America is Special
In most other countries, bribery is a way of life. The political, media and financial elite are not expected to play by the same rules. They live in a separate sphere, where entitlements are a birthright.
In the United States, we aspire to live with “equal justice under law.” No one is above the law. No one is immune to investigation and punishment.
Are we perfect in achieving this vision? Absolutely not.
Abuses of power happen all the time. We can name dozens of politicians who have gotten away with so much over the last few decades.
But sometimes we get it right. Sometimes those who abuse their power are held to account. Witnessing the arrests and publicity surrounding the admissions scandal is one of those times. We called out those who abused power and money.
How America Found Justice
In this way, America resembles ancient Israel. In ancient Israel, even the king was subject to the law.
Recall the biblical scene where Nathan the Prophet chastises King David for sending one of his generals to die so that he could marry the general’s widow. (2 Samuel 12)
After hearing the prophet’s critique, King David does not dismiss or imprison him. Rather, he admits his wrongdoing.
Ancient Israel differed from other Near Eastern cultures in this pursuit of equal application of the law. In Hammurabi’s code, which governed ancient Babylonia, the punishment for murdering a nobleman was greater than the punishment for murdering a commoner.
In ancient Israel murder was murder. The law was the same for every Israelite.
We are blessed to live in a country where—like ancient Israel—we strive to apply the law equally. Do we always live up to our ideal? No. Many people skirt the law and get away with it.
But America is, as George Washington put it, a “grand experiment” in living up to our highest ideals. Those ideals were forged in ancient Israel, and they continue to shape us today.
What do you think about the college admissions scandal?