In praise of mediocrity

April 17, 2010 at 8:50 pm Leave a comment

It doesn’t get enough credit in our modern world. All these people chasing after creativity, innovation, purpose. What for? What’s wrong with just living every day, small step after small step? Great things have been achieved in small, incremental steps. Just don’t ask me what. And anyway, who needs great things. There are too many things in the world as it is.

But seriously. In a bit of trivia I overheard (so it must be true), the military apparently teach soldiers that when entering battle, you don’t want to be in the front, and you don’t want to be in the back. Edges are dangerous, coz they’re exposed. Much better to hie yourself to the middle. Chances are if anyone’s going to get shot, it won’t be you. Seems to me that’s a good life philosophy. Let other people bear the brunt of the praise/punishment. Invisibility is the key to a comfortable life.

Problem is, it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’re merely average. I think most of us would like to think that we’re really good at at least one thing. Or, if we can’t be good at something, we want to be special in some way. Standing out is a social necessity. It allows us to attract a mate, get laid, and procreate. Maybe that’s all this drive to stand out is about. Maybe success is just one big mating dance.

How can we rebel against this evolutionary drive to success and yet remain comfortable in our own mediocrity?

First and foremost, we’ll have to find a cure for boredom, as it is the one characteristic that prevents ordinary people from staying that way. Maybe that’s what the pharmaceutical companies should pour their energies/money into. What’s wrong with developing an opium for the masses? The war on drugs is dumb anyhow. And while they’re at it, maybe they can develop a drug that makes us fall in love with each other, no acts of extraordinary courage necessary in the process.

Maybe there’s no reason to be a rebel or think for yourself. Who says that makes you happy? Who says making your own choices, free from undue influence, will render you any more satisfied than those whose choices are made for them? Just asking.

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