Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Accidental Genius

In one course we've recently been talking about Ben Franklin and the concept of "happy mediocrity" that he claims characterized Revolutionary America. Or, as a student suggested, the idea that America was (and is), a "Mediocracy."

I could not agree more.

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5 Comments:

At 7:32 PM , Blogger Yankee T said...

I agree.

 
At 6:54 AM , Anonymous /ehj2 said...

Dear Doctor,

Compared to any other country that has even half of what we have, we are certainly below mediocre in the way we nourish our children, sustain our sick, protect our poor, educate our masses, maintain the fabric of our physical infrastructure, steward our environment, cherish sound governance, work fairly with our neighbors on this planet, etc.

And yet I believe we both remain cautiously hopeful.

I know you wrote this post somewhat "tongue-in-cheek," and I'm not writing to disagree (I've never disagreed with you) but to expand on this observation; not even to remind you what you already know, but simply to explicitly place these possibilities next to yours.

Every generation has changed the world. This may be the first one that will do so because it has to.

Our legacy to our children is a shattered, polluted, exhausted planet -- and in America that includes trillions of dollars worth of debt. We have made our children indentured servants of our Asian bankers so that we could "enjoy" cheap energy, low taxes, and some plastic frills that we will eventually discard to bob around in the ocean.

Our youth owes us nothing and knows it owes us nothing, not because we who run the country are mediocre, but because we are savage monsters who have wrecked and paved paradise. You can hear their anguish in their music and their quiet rage in their defensive cynicism. We are the mindless zombies their movies are about, and we're lucky they don't all rise up at night and kill us in our sleep.

For me, you began this conversation here in 2005 (July 16, "Anyone see a pattern here?") with observations about your students and "the apparently impenetrable armor of 'The Appropriate,'" and how "the dogma of 'Appropriateness' has assumed a kind of quasi-religious authority." I responded with a long, rambling post on tribes that agreed with your observations and, I hoped, added something to the fabric of your conversation.

I think their tribes know that marching in the streets doesn't work, this political process is broken, and the instruments of power are in the hands of corporatists who are so far behind the scenes they can't be seen or reached, let alone stabbed in the heart for the good of the planet.

But a tipping point is coming because we all know this doesn't work. And I am cautiously hopeful.

In my observation, our children live more "in here," than "out there." They organize themselves in their own communities of underground resistance. They're more open and honest with their fears and desires and sexuality, less racist, less sexist, and perhaps even less elitist than our generation. They are less religious and more individually spiritual. They are more willing to find happiness in living smaller, at the same time they are more world-aware and far less nation-centric than we are.

To survive, it won't be possible for them to be mediocre. They will have to want what they want fiercely, and be unyielding and uncompromising in their destruction of the systems that they now know don't work.

We better be ready to get out of their way.

As always, love and peace and gratitude for the example of you.

/ehj2

 
At 6:08 PM , Blogger Julia said...

Definitely agree.

 
At 11:08 AM , Anonymous Steve said...

How have I never heard anyone use the term 'mediocracy?' Can't help but agree...

All my best,

Steve

 
At 2:25 PM , Blogger Steph said...

Mediocracy! I love that!
It's so to the point for this country.

 

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