March 26, 2006
It seems that lately the US is being led and inundated with mediocrity. Since mediocrity left to its own incompetence will breed nothing better than mediocrity; it is no surprise that inundation is the natural child of leadership. We could be basking in excellence with our children living up to our excellent expectations instead of reveling in C’s. George Bush the leader of the greatest nation in the world is only a C student and appears to be failing in post graduate Political Science. The number 2 man, Dick Cheney, who is rumored to be the real president, flunked out of Yale twice. Ashcroft, a failed at politician, who was rescued from obscurity by his mediocre friends, now leads the key legal organization for our government. Mediocre people lead us into mediocre wars, with no defined enemy, making a quantitative measure of victory virtually impossible. We can only gauge progress through the ramblings and arm waving of the Ari and Rummy shown in, ostensibly, called press conferences. The enemy, Osama Ben Laden, who allegedly masterminded the 9/11 attack on our symbols of financial greatness cannot be found even after a dwarfed emulation of D-day. He has vanished into the hills of Afghanistan to become the Middle East version of Jesse James. He is no Hitler or Mussolini just a local wealthy Saudi Arabian with some anti Semitic axes to grind but has been made larger than life thanks to mediocrity, the news media, and people who hawk any disaster for ratings. The mediocre can’t find real life big heroes; they can only spin the small tin horns into something that simulates greatness and reality. The imitations become the realities of this media and commercial driven life. The Ads become larger than the super bowl. With a C you can rule the world! Imitation of life becomes the destination of mediocrity. The more the imitation makes us feel as if our very lives are at stake, then it deserves an award, an honor, to cement the pseudo-reality. The imitation is staged with polls, canned experts, pundits, and personal testimony in dire need of attention. Mediocrity is directed, produced and marketed with all of the wisdom that MBAs can muster. Our world is being ruled by mediocre people managing mediocre events by escalating trivia into national and life threatening crisis. Compare, if you can free your preconception, the Civil War, World 1, World war II, Korean War, Vietnam War, with the “War on Terror”.
Does it make reasonable sense to judge a nation by its leaders? Does having mediocre leaders mean that the nation is mediocre or at least heading it into mediocrity. Was the fall of Rome precipitated by choosing or tolerating mediocre leaders? Should Nero have confined himself to a musical conservatory instead of being the emperor of Rome? Should George Bush confine himself to managing his ranch in Crawford, Texas as opposed to launching vicious personal assaults on your adversaries by calling them evil or pygmies? A true sign of mediocrity is to call your adversaries names instead of developing leadership strategies and policies to place your adversaries into weak or indefensible positions. A leader’s finesse of foreign policy leads their adversaries to self-destruct. Further, mediocrity breeds mediocrity since none of the subordinate leaders want to outshine their leader or the mediocre leader cannot distinguish excellence in people when they are presented. If they have the potential to outshine their leader, they take on the mantel of mediocrity as a job preservation maneuver. Hence you have all other people in subordinate leadership positions degrading to mediocrity. The whole situation becomes degenerative and a me-too paralysis sets in where everyone ratifies mediocrity and all three branches of the government supports poor decisions
Mediocrity surrounds us everywhere, in the vaulted halls of the fortune 500, atonal sounds of rap replace the sensations of Louis Armstrong, our elite troops come out as heroes when faced with mobs in Somalia, perpetrators of vicious acts get lost in the mountains of Pakistan, our allies. We move on to other evils in Korea, Iraq, and who knows Iran may be next; neither finishing what we started or selling a plausible conclusion to the billions wasted in our narrow minded pursuit of evil. The greatness of Roosevelt was tackling his own national problems, first and then moving onto the world stage when called upon to do so. Greatness requires the ability to recognize pain and to use creative energies and talents to relieve this pain. Mediocrity is never penetrating enough to recognize pain and provide the necessary where withal for relief. Mediocrity does and mediocrity is……. We are doomed as a nation!
Perhaps the largest victims of mediocrity are the people who would accept and swallow mediocrity rather than admit their malaise and insist upon the excellence all of their lives deserve. They may have revisit and correct past mistakes and spotlight the shills and frauds that led them down this path of weakness. They may have to open old wounds for needed healing and health, take Florida, for example. Other mediocre people will not raise to excellence unless it is required by the constituents they represent. Witness the Supreme Court’s decision around Florida and our legislator’s abdication around the Iraq war. Here mediocrity can become radioactively deadly by not having leaders who understand the foreign policy complexities of the Middle and the Far East with both North Korea and Israel possessing weapons of mass destruction.
Maybe, our silence which fosters mediocrity is our curse. If we demanded the best in our leaders, we would truly be the best! If we insisted on excellence, we would not be faced with silly arguments rationalizing the loss of over 2.8 million jobs lost. We would not have to explain to some young child the loss of his father or mother on some foreign shore due to the folly of someone who can’t feel or has never experienced true pain. Those who serve us owe us the best, since we are expected to yield our lives in defense of our jobs, communities, and heirs. We will not be shielded by Air Force 1 when the missiles are headed our way. We who make the ultimate sacrifice have the exclusive right to demand the best, i.e. excellence. No C student is worthy of our ultimate sacrifice!