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Who Are 'The Mediocre' People?

In a post that was a private reflection, moved off the main page, I mentioned "the mediocre people." I've been pondering this concept and believe it needs some clarification that might be of interest to most of my readers.

The Mediocre are not defined by their education levels, incomes, faiths, political beliefs, genders, races, or any number of other categories.
Oxford American Dictionary: 1. of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate. 2. rather poor or inferior.
Merriam-Webster: moderate or low, poor quality. Of a poor to middling character.
What is "poor character" to me? It means you are not a role model. It means you aren't one of the good or great people. Maybe The Mediocre don't try. Maybe they don't care. But they are what they are.

Most of the good and great people I know are from humble backgrounds. They are farmers, nurses, librarians, police officers, farm workers, mechanics, and many other professions. They are gay and straight. They are Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, and at least a half-dozen other faiths. They have college degrees and some have not completed high school. They can be rich, poor, middle-class, or whatever else you might call an income level.

You might consider the good and great people "average" but I consider them much more than that. The good people do all they can to help their neighbors and their communities. They listen and try to understand what other people might need to succeed.

My parents don't have college educations. They've struggled at times, financially, but they've always given to others. They both work with people needing assistance. My mother is a teacher's aide and my father was a nurse. These are my role models. Good people. Not perfect people, not "above average" by most standards, but special people because they have the best intentions most of the time.

Sure, good people make mistakes. But good people try to set things right.

Being one of The Mediocre is purely a reflection of how you treat other people. The Mediocre are:
  • Convinced "tolerance" and "diversity" are somebody else's problem.
  • Certain they themselves are accepting and tolerance, of course. 
  • Afraid of anyone too "odd" or "strange" or "different" from their experiences. 
  • Searching for reasons to be angry at "the others" (and "other" varies). 
  • Seeking praise and accolades instead of doing what's right because it is right. 
  • Unaware of when they hurt other people, intentionally or unintentionally. 
  • Unwilling to apologize without deflecting and crafting excuses. 
  • Endowed with a sense of entitlement and superiority.
I've met evil people. These were sociopaths, pedophiles, drug dealers, thieves, frauds, and cheats. These are not The Mediocre, because many of the evil seem to take pride in breaking laws or hurting people.

Evil people are easy to fire from a job or expel from a school. Mediocre people are hard to dismiss from our lives. The Mediocre are simply those people we can't seem to avoid. The Mediocre are, I would like to imagine, a small 10 to 20 percent of people. At least I'd like to imagine it is merely a few making our workplaces, schools, and other places miserable.

Parents of special needs children meet The Mediocre too often. It is the man or woman asking why you can't control your child. It is the person on the train you ask to turn down the music and he or she then increases the volume, to your child's distress. It is the teacher or doctor who talks down to the parent or individual with special needs. It is the school board member or principal unwilling to listen to parent complaints about poor support programs.

Sadly, we often have little recourse when dealing with The Mediocre.

But, don't forget that there are many more good and great people in our lives.


  1. "But, don't forget that there are many more good and great people in our lives."

    A very good reminder indeed!

  2. Your use of the word Mediocre isn't a common standard. I think you need to come up with a new term, but I'd be loathe to label any person into a group like you have done. I think it promotes prejudice and allows people to simply dismiss someone because of a label without getting to know them. People are complex mechanisms that aren't easily defined by labels.

  3. This is frankly quite judgemental of you. People ARE complex, and cannot be dismissed as "mediocre" when their problem might be ignorance or biology. It's hypocritical to expect strangers to blindly accept our children and then blast them for not reacting to novel situations with enough grace for your liking.


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