You know what- and who- Lukewarm is, right?
Neither hot nor cold; neither good nor yet bad; neither efficient nor entirely inefficient. The almost, the nearly, the quintessential fence-straddler who can’t make up their mind what they want to be. They haven’t the energy to be up and doing but have too much guilty unease to be a complete wastrel. The kind of people you want to hold by the shoulders and give a thorough shake to, that they may wake up fully.
You must have met them; they are everywhere.
They are the insolent plumber who whines while demanding an exorbitant sum from you for fixing a dripping tap, then takes all day to do something that could have been done in ten minutes flat. But that’s not the end of it. He does such a shoddy job of it that you have to call someone (more competent) next week to take everything apart and redo it all. You find out you’ve ended up spending three times to repair what it would have cost to replace. And we’re not talking of the mental anguish… let alone the waste of the steadily dripping tap.
It is instructive to note that most dictionaries find themselves clueless when attempting to define this word. They suffice by defining mediocre as the state of being mediocre; having mediocre abilities. These definitions, of course, are absolutely useless as explanatory tools. That’s like defining the color blue by naming- not showing- all the colors which are blue.
The most descriptive definition of mediocrity i found was the state of being half way up the mountain… (permanently). That’s Lukewarm all over.
But why diminish your soul being run-of-the-mill at something? Mediocrity: now there is ugliness for you. Mediocrity’s a hairball coughed up on the Persian carpet of Creation.
~ Tom Robbins
They don’t have the spirit to go all the way up, nor were they content to never have begun the climb at all. Had they not begun the climb at all, they might have done something else. We can’t all be climbing mountains, after all! But they didn’t do that. They began the climb they never intended to finish. They robbed themselves and the world of something that might have been their unique contribution to the world. Instead they sentenced themselves to being Lukewarm! A more ignoble betrayal cannot be conceived!
In the republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous.
~ Robert G. Ingersoll
I have heard of the Lukewarm defend their mediocrity most assiduously and belligerently.
“Oh, but we can’t all be Einstein you know?” they declare through lips pinched with indignation. “We can’t do things as well as you can do them. It’s not our fault if you are so efficient! You ought to make allowances for us. You are cold and inhuman if you don’t!”
And they make it out to be your fault- for expecting more from them, for holding them to a higher standard, for being willing to teach them how to be the best they are able to be!
This, then, is your sin! That you would show them, again and yet again, that they have it in them to be better. Not the best- for who can define perfection?- but surely better than they are at present. They resent your eagerness to teach them. They hate you for your arrogance… they tell you that you are too narrow to make room for ground reality.
And I — my head oppressed by horror — said:
“Master, what is it that I hear? Who are
those people so defeated by their pain?”
And he to me: “This miserable way
is taken by the sorry souls of those
who lived without disgrace and without praise.
They now commingle with the coward angels,
the company of those who were not rebels
nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.
The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,
have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them —
even the wicked cannot glory in them.
~ Dante Alighieri
They would have you believe that you are measuring them against the benchmarks of perfection. When you tell them that your scale is calibrated to them not to some external standard, they refuse to believe you. When you try to remind them of instances when you saw them being better than they are letting themselves be currently… and that THAT is the basis of your appeals… they turn away from you in disdain.
“No”, they say. “You are asking us to be perfect. We aren’t perfect. YOU might be”, they throw at you in contemptuous accusation (as if it were a shameful secret they’ve discovered in you) , “we aren’t!”
There, in one fell sweep, they declare the best in you as your irredeemable sin while making a pedestal of their own mediocrity and standing upon it with arms akimbo, the very image of suffering.
Nothing, nothing you can do will ever absolve you of the sin. It is cast in stone. And the stone is hung round your neck for all eternity for men to see you for what you are.
You are the abject sinner who has no concept of Lukewarm. You have never learned to ride fences, you never wanted to. You are not afraid to climb all the way to the top of the mountain and to hoist there the flag of your soul in proud splendor. Everyday, every moment of your life is solemnly dedicated to being the best you can be. You hold yourself to that promise with a shining sense of duty. That effort and demand you make of yourself is the best thing you have to offer to your fellow men. It is the only way you know of showing them respect. And you are proud of yourself for never welshing on that promise. Oh, yes you are! As you should be!
To be of good quality, you have to excuse yourself from the presence of shallow and callow minded individuals.
~ Michael Bassey Johnson
When will you stop trying to light a fire under those who insist on being Lukewarm? Can’t you see, it is no use! You may cut your limbs off and throw them into the fire too, but it will not heat them. You may turn your very marrow to ice and it will not make them freeze.
Lukewarm must remain what it is. When a living being holds mediocrity to be a badge of honor, there is nothing to be done about it. It has sentenced itself to the land of unliving (not to death). It is only a question of time before the weeds claim it to be their own. And that, will be the end of THAT.
Your job is not to spend your precious life trying to convince/ convert a deuce into an ace. Your job is to riffle rapidly through the pack to find the four aces hidden within it. And to tenaciously hold on to your vision while you’re doing it. Surrendering your wisdom to their stupidity is not likely to serve you well.
Ditch the Lukewarm deuces and make room for the Aces!
It is so easy to be mediocre rather than excelling at being you. And it is the mediocrity that tries convince us of that isn’t it? Such a thought provoking post Dagny.
Indeed it is! And what a terrible waste it is! Who does it serve, this soul destroying abdication?
So happy you liked this Jai! <3
Sent from my Samsung device
I loved this post, Dagny. I read it a few days ago on phone but couldn’t comment that time. Re-reading it today I find this idea of “land of unliving” so powerful. As Jaibala says it is so easy to be mediocre, and sadly the world is full of those who take the easy way out, every single time. I think the present modern approach to life — where only material success counts and so people end up doing whatever they can to become materially successful, no matter the cost, no matter what means they have to employ — encourages this path of ‘easy way out’, promotes the idea of being mediocre, average because that is so comfortable. The idea of pushing or exceeding oneself is slowly dying a slow death, at least for the wide majority. Sad, really.
I’m sure there must have been people content to be mediocre in less modern times too. I think their percentage has shot up like anything in recent times… so much so that everyone seems bitten by the mediocre bug!
I am certain it is the educations system that’s to blame. It can’t be anything else.
I don’t recall when I last read such a comprehensive, finely honed essay on mediocrity on a blog. I am absolutely with you on the subject, word by word, thought by thought and quote by marvelous quote.
Sadly, mediocrity is already a majority in our beloved land and it’s only getting worse at an exponential rate.
Indeed it is. Our children will have to deal with the disease in even more virulent forms. God give them strength!