Have you looked at a factory building lately?
If you walk around your town (either America or globally) you can see the remains of burned out factory buildings, corporate office complexes, and even industrial parks that lie empty, vandalized, or half occupied by struggling commodity businesses.
If you walk around your town (mostly in America) you can see the remains of a K-12 education system that used to be the model of the world. Inside many school buildings, there remain students that sit in rows, raise their hands obediently, only speak when they are called upon, are taught to pass the test, and when they don’t or can’t perform in those ways, they are labeled and sometimes forgotten.
If you walk around your town (mostly in the formerly Western World) you can see the remains of churches. Sure, the seats are full in some buildings, but increasingly, buildings are emptying and churches are closing. And more and more there is the trumpeting of people who claim irreligiousness (or disbelief) and in response more and more churches are coasting on the past Spirit (both financial and otherwise) that used to there, and hoping that a positive change (that resembles past glories) will come.
What do the physical buildings, the educational system, and the church all have in common in your town? Or mine?
They are the remains of a time when being just average was “ok.” They are the remains of the third greatest revolution in human history, the Industrial Revolution. They are all that remains of a promise that was over engineered, over sold, and over bought: The consumer (or employee) can just show up at work, do average work just a little better year on year, and then retire and be “ok.” In addition, the consumer (or employees) children will be educated to a standard that will be just a little better each year, and the family will get a little safer each year, in a neighborhood that will be a little better each year, and everything will be “ok.” And, of course, the church will require just a little more (usually money) from the consumer every year, and this will be “ok.”
We are surrounded by the remains of “ok” in a time when “ok” is no longer good enough. And when the disconnect between “ok” and reality reaches a breaking point, we get demagogues, marketers, con men, flim-flam men, and others selling us a bill of goods about a return to a glorious past, rather than the hard truth about the realistic future:
Here’s the hard truth:
“Ok” was never good enough. And doing “just a little better” than last year isn’t going to get the same outcome financially, morally, ethically, or materially anymore–if it ever really did in the first place. The greatest psychological block of our time for people to overcome (at least in America) is this idea that average work, average effort, and average outcomes are still “ok”—even as everything we see economically, spiritually, and materially at the start of the fourth greatest worldwide revolution proves otherwise.
From our physical infrastructure to our internal responses to conflicts, meaning, and mattering, we’ve got to stop walking around our towns (either physically or metaphorically) trying to recapture “ok” and instead shift to inspiring people at every level to consistently pursue better than “ok” to get to best.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org