I believe in the power of American mediocrity.
I might be the only one actively focusing on this, even though there’s so much middle of the road all around us. I started writing a book about mediocrity – of course, it’s not even close to ever getting finished. Mostly it’s my personal journey as a C student and the force of growing generalization and standards of stereotype we are surrounded by in our world. The book is called “A Good Title Is Hard to Find.”
My beliefs come time tested and reinforced by everything I hear and see. I don’t like to focus too much on politics, because a lot of people already do, but it’s an excellent case in point. The whole red state/blue state thing seeks to pigeon hole people into camps that they might not get out of (well, mainly because that would take effort.) I’m a little concerned about what color a third party might get assigned, but I’ll let them take care of those details. Really, the issue is that voting populations are barely coming to the polls, and even the majority of the people who will show up are more excited for the “I Voted” sticker. It’s a fantastic version of performance art in one respect, and a completely mediocre bastardization of the democratic process in another respect.
Our mediocre American society seems to have takers worldwide too. Wal-Mart and McDonald’s and Best Buy are betting their stock prices on it. I go to these places for their products now and again, I’m not saying they shouldn’t exist, but they are all great examples of American entrepreneurial spirit settling in the middle for the placation of the mass market. This is not the best of what we have to offer, this represents the most available at the low, low bargain price of how much people are willing to pay. Again – the success of mediocrity shows its face by dropping the high, embracing the low and pulling it up to generally acceptable.
I want to believe that this is how it’s always been. I think about medieval times and how the royalty were few and the serfs were many. The Egyptian Pharoes and Roman Caesars exalted while everyone else went on with their own sweeping. Believing in the power of mediocrity may just be a function of our information age. Since we know more about how many other ‘regular’ people are out there playing the daily game of life, yet how few are really any good at it- at least enough to get noticed. Not to mention the strides that are taken by the very best minds to make technology as simple to use as possible, so we don’t have to stretch too much to put it to use. Thanks awesome technology dudes!
Once I realized just how massive the mediocrity was I almost panicked. But then I also realized that American mediocrity is just a small upstart chapter of a long history. Maybe because it’s all so new, everyone’s trying it out. Once they see it, feel it, get to know its relative impermanence they’ll go on to the next thing. Of course, that might take some leadership too.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.