Mediocrity is the greatest enemy of good and life. Vincent Van Gogh's letters to his brother, Theo, are among the most moving cries of understanding and humanity that we have. In one letter, he writes, "How does one become mediocre? By compromising, by making concessions, today in this matter, tomorrow in another, according to the dictates of the world, by never contradicting the world and by always following public opinion." I don't think anyone has ever summed it up more perfectly.
Mediocrity is safe, very easy – and therefore to be avoided at all costs! The purpose of life, it seems to me, is to leave no one and nothing indifferent. It means taking risks, going down paths that are not approved. It means the possibility of loneliness and isolation. It means, in sum, all that which is opposed to mediocrity.
I couldn't agree with Her Excellency, or the artist, more. Even when choosing our leaders we shy away from the most capable ones and put people in power whom we think are most like us regular folks. Foreign policy is decided by people who cannot even read a map. In Kansas schools are teaching intelligent design, creationism in a different clothing, a slap in the face of science. Yet according to polls most of us are comfortable with this. At the same time we criticize the Taliban and other fundamentalist Muslim movements, but refuse to see the same pattern in our own country. It is difficult to remember that Islam saved our civilization and was more advanced in the sciences than anything before them. What happened there since could be taking place here right now.
Just like in politics, people in the arts, and entertainment, depend heavily on PR. We rush to see and hear 'artists' who have really no place in the spotlight. We take the word of 'experts' for face value, although often these people are among the least competent. People seem to think all it takes is believing in themselves and instantly greatness is there. Take for example a string player in B-rate orchestra, who got his job because the organization was in desperate need and truly qualified applicants were few or none. Immediately he thinks of himself now being part of the musical elite, although just yesterday he was an unemployed nobody. There was a time when a musical entertainer needed to know how to sing: today lip syncing is sufficient, with good marketing. Mediocrity rules again.