Without average people, exceptional people would stop being exceptional. If most of the world wasn’t so average, there’d be no average. Averages rely on most people and events falling within certain – average – parameters. Or, seen another way, averages are the sum total of people being average. But even average people can excel despite themselves. They become hyper-average: they become “mediocre”. And mediocrity itself “becomes” them.
In baseball, an average hitter has roughly a .250 batting average. That means they’ll succeed at the plate about twenty-five times out of a hundred. Good hitters hit above 300 – successful only a third of the time. That really does move the goal posts considerably (to mix a few sport metaphors together)!
While we might wish everyone brought their A game to every encounter, most people don’t. We get their B game or their C game. They deliver mediocrity. And we accept it as the best they could do (even if, clearly, it wasn’t).
Maybe if we demanded more from each other we’d get more. That doesn’t mean being an asshole – and it has to start at home. Within each of us. If we accept mediocrity within ourselves, we’re doomed. So is everyone our mediocrity touches.
Mediocrity starts with settling. It could have been better, but… . While compromise is the art of politics, every time we compromise with mediocrity, it wins completely! That’s what makes it so dangerous.
Trumpanistas – being fascists – are all poster boys for mediocrity. “I don’t like Trump but I love his policies” is a statement of mediocrity’s ideals (such as they are). The end justifies the means.
Brute force replaces analysis and strategy. Knuckle-scraping and head-scratching go hand in hand, it seems.
Democracy is hard. It demands its citizens participate if the democracy’s going to succeed. The moment we get up off our asses, we begin to put mediocrity in its place. We’re doing something!
Mediocrity does nothing because doing nothing seems safe. That’s the instant when it gets super dangerous.
When it can kill without even thinking about it.
Evil is a very real thing but it never looks like a Bond villain. In fact, most evil looks a lot like us. And it’s not especially good at anything beyond being ambitious. That’s when the banality of evil begins to smolder.
And it’s when mediocrity turns lethal.