The Celebration of Mediocrity

We live in strange times when mediocrity is celebrated and excellence is dubbed as special and self centered. This goes against everything that any living system evolved with, but somehow it is becoming more and more enticing to be “common” than be special.
Life began on earth in harsh circumstances and the environment played the role of great leveller. Anything that could adapt, showed resilience to the negatives, survived and then flourished. Humans are considered at the apex of evolution not because of their hunting capacity or their capacity to live at extreme temperature, but because they have strived to evolve a brain that invented guns for hunting and amazing technological advances to live in any environment. These advancements were the results of pursuit of excellence, to be better than most. Since times immemorial there have been people who have proven to be the paragon of human intelligence and they are the ones who drove the society where it stands today.
However, even in those times there was a larger mass of people who did not achieve that level of excellence but at least strived for it. The achievers became role models for the generations to emulate and understand that everything is possible if only one goes in the pursuit of excellence. And then, there was a feeling of pride that one gets from achieving that most can not. Our brain rewards itself when we achieve something and this gives motivation for doing better the next time.
This all made sense to me and I believed that the pursuit of excellence is the best way to live and that is what actually meant to “be human”, until recently. For the past two years or so I started observing rise of the phenomenon of “being ordinary”. At first I believed that there have always been people in society who have been critics of excellence in the name of equality but they have never been able to stop the people who strive for excellence and hence have remained on the fringes of the society. But, lately this phenomenon is taking over the mass and this is what scares me. The best way to stop people who you know are better than you is to make them believe that they are not, to make them feel guilty and ashamed of their achievements by calling it exclusive, self centered and unsocial. This was what Macaulay did to India long time back to make us feel ashamed of what we had achieved and this is what we are doing to ourselves now by motivating people to become ordinary.
There are people today wishing they were born in a caste that is included in the OBC list or SC list just because they are seeing people around them getting more than they could ever achieve with their intellectual merit and that too with a lot less effort. This however is not the worst of it. What is actually even worse is the fact that we are celebrating this as an achievement of our society.
Its election time and the largest number of people in human history will vote for their representatives who will go on to make significant changes in what the society is today by making laws and changing them. There has been a lot of campaigning by star candidates and several promises have been made. I just wish that at least some fraction of the voting class will think about who to choose in terms of who will let them achieve excellence rather than making them a herd of mediocre people striving to bring down who actually excel.


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