My brother is fond of challenging "What do you mean better?" Whenever someone uses the word. It's a fair point. We sometimes speak as if the advantage of A over B were just obvious. Not always so.
Sports radio last week was arguing about whether (almost) 50 y/o pitcher Jamie Moyer should be voted into Cooperstown when he becomes eligible in 5 years. He has a Won-Lost record of 269-209, not usually sufficient...he was never a Cy Young Winner, only once an all-star...lifetime ERA unspectacular... the standard arguments for any baseball argument. People were outraged - outraged - that Moyer should be considered merely because he had an extravagantly long career. "The Hall of Fame should be reserved for those players..."
Well, sez who? How are people so sure that their criteria for better is the correct one? Why not put a guy in because he was the oldest, or the youngest, or most versatile, or for any reason at all that might be interesting to museum-goers? Similarly today's conversation for Paul Pierce and whether there is any comparison at all with Larry Bird: would Bird be guarding LeBron? What would Larry have done with a poor team? Callers sounded seriously likely to stroke out. "The only true measure for the greatness of a player..."
I have to figure that, like it or not, we apply this same unreason to what makes a good boss, or good president, or a good parent. That some of us seem to be unable to even imagine the validity of other criteria is worrisome. Bethany touched on this recently at Bad Data, Bad, and I have been turning my own comment around in my head today, trying to draw conclusions from it. If there are not obvious successes, are there at least obvious failures - in parents, in coaches, in presidents, in writers?
In teachers, in preachers, in churches?