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Elite antipode

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Jim Thompson

By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

An antipode is the direct opposite of something else. It is a term often used in geography. For instance, the antipode of Santiago, Chile is Yungaisi, China. These places are on exactly the opposite sides of the world from each other (I was trying to find an example with two places on land, most of the places in the United States have antipodes in the ocean).

I am going to suggest the antipode of elite is humility. Let’s strive for humility. We’ll feel better and so will all the people around us.

Not so fast, though. Humility can be a complex subject. I subscribe to a magazine called The Vanguard. It is published by a group that identifies themselves as “Old Order” or Amish or Mennonite. The Vanguard is a good place to study humility.

An article some time back was talking about humility in terms of the horse and buggy one drives. For the English (that’s us not of the Old Order persuasion), when you see a horse and buggy out on the road, you probably do not pay too much attention to it. However, just like us English who take pride in the car we drive, sometimes the young Amish or Mennonite men gravitate toward fast horses and polished buggies with little extras.

The article mildly condemned this, but then took another twist. It also criticized the driver of the old nag and decrepit buggy, the one who displays with pride how humble they can look.

At the end of the day, we are all positioned according to our circumstances. We all have observers that view us as elite and others who view us as humble.

So, while last week I came down hard on those who travel around in their personal jets, it is just possible that to some in your coterie, you come off as elite as these jet-setting individuals do to most of us.  

And see, I just pulled an elitism. You just read the last sentence and are likely saying to yourself, what the heck is a “coterie?”  

Well, a coterie is simply a group of close friends. And I could have used “your close friends,” but it would not have served my purpose in giving you an example of elitism in language.

Many years ago, my mentor was advising me on how to dress for a particular job interview.  We came to the watch I should wear (this was after we had talked about everything else down to my socks).  

He told me he regularly wore a relatively inexpensive brand of Japanese watch. He went on to say, if you start playing the game of expensive watches, someone will always have one more expensive than the one you have. Don’t play that game.

And it is the same with cars, buggies, horses and everything else.

Being an elite or being humble is, again, a complex relationship phenomenon. Everyone of us is an elite to some and appears humble to others.   

More humility would serve society well.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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