It used to be ok to be, well, “ok.”
It used to be “ok” to do good enough work at home with your kids, in the neighborhood with your community, and in your church with your time.
It used to be “ok” to just show up, do what you’re told, don’t ask too many questions, and be the nail that hammered itself down.
It used to be “ok” to not do the little extras, to not give a little more, to care only at the level you were comfortable caring at and to devote little or no time to thinking about why that was ok.
And in this time, when things used to be “ok,” political world leaders still were elected and assassinated with regularity, wars still were started and ended, products were still invented and sold, television programs, the newspapers, and other forms of communication tools still worked to get you information. And people still lived and died, marketing still worked, and scandals still intrigued the masses.
So what happened?
The Law of Averages says that in a sample of any kind, from neighborhoods, to marketing campaigns, the statistical distribution of outcomes among members of a small sample must reflect the distribution of outcomes across the population as a whole.
The law has always been a fallacy, based on observed, personalized experiences that are then transposed to a much larger (or sometimes different) population sample. And the rules that the industrialists, the marketers, the politicians, and the policy makers created in the 20th century (and that they are mightily trying to recreate in the 21st century) are responsible for the massive belief in the law of averages.
But, wishful thinking is not reality. And the reality is, it was never good enough to just be “ok”: whether at your job, at communicating in conflict situations, or at creating a project, or taking a risk. And now, because of technological shifts that have been long remarked upon and analyzed, the fallacy is being exposed at mass, for what it is.
It’s not good enough to be average at communicating in a conflict scenario.
It’s not good enough to just show up at home, at church, in your community, or at work.
It’s not good enough to not go the extra mile, do the extra thing, and take the extra time, even if you don’t get paid for it. Especially if you don’t get paid for it.
It’s not good enough to disengage from what’s going on in someone else’s political, economic, spiritual, or financial reality because “that doesn’t impact me over here.”
Wishful thinking that “it will all be ‘ok’” doesn’t work anymore (and never really did), because it won’t be “ok.” The cultural, social, political, and financial machine that used to guarantee that “ok” would be good enough, is breaking down.
Its only individuals (not the masses at scale) who can choose to do the hard work that moves humanity collectively from merely “ok” in our emotional, spiritual, and material interactions with each other, and moves us to better, and finally to best (or most remarkable) in the world: meaning the world individuals inhabit on a daily, weekly, yearly basis, not the whole wide world.
Navigating the tension between the desire to passively slip into the anonymity of “ok” and the need to actively move from “ok” to better to best, is the place where engagement—personal and meaningful—must happen in the 21st century if humanity is to become the best version of humanity it can be.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org