In Praise of the Average Person

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I have often wondered, why many religions and almost all of the social ideologies humans have developed so far in their quest for “justice” always side up with the poor, the oppressed, the underprivileged, the disenfranchised. Not that these groups of people would not need some special attention and help. They certainly do. But it stands out that the justice doctrines seem to side up with the poor and the weak alone and have no good word to say about the average working person.

Just like I cannot see justice in taking value, property, or money away from those who created them and worked hard to do so, I can also see no justice in the cold and unloving treatment average working folks receive from humankind’s social justice warriors.

I am speaking about those people who study hard to acquire useful and marketable skills and knowledge, who go to work every day to not only earn their keep and carry their own weight but also to support with their taxes and charity those who do not. These people are the bedrock of any civil society. They are the ones that keep things going and on a steady footing.

The ideal of poverty, of a life without any property, riches, or comfort was propagated by holy men like Buddha and Saint Francis, who never had a family to care for and in fact never had anybody for whom he had responsibility other than himself and, in an abstract manner, mankind as a whole.

The entire “monastery” concept was based on the idea of unmarried men and women without children. I remember Pope Francis speaking in New York and telling Americans that they must not only give away what they do not need but also what they do need. Everybody a poor person? No rich people allowed in heaven? Sounds much like Saint Francis to me. But it strikes me as odd coming from a man who lives in utter luxury and controls more money than the Bank of England.

Buddhism demands from the believer that he frees himself of all material riches and earthly goods to finally become one with nothing. Seems to me that good Buddhists would not be good taxpayers.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was an early French socialist, politician, philosopher, economist and the first person to declare himself an anarchist, using that term. He is best known for his words: “Property is theft”, preaching poverty and collectivism.

The idea that owning private property is somehow sinful and illegitimate has spread into all forms of socialist thinking. Karl Marx stood up for the “workers” by which he meant only employed factory workers. He wanted capital owners expropriated, and in his utopian “classless society” private property was prohibited, above all private property of the means of production. The elimination of private property was to bring about the “equity” so craved by modern collectivists.

None of the social justice apostles had ever any good word to say about the small businessperson, the person who created his/her own business through hard work, ingenuity, and perseverance.

According to CNBC, for over a decade, the percentage of Americans who paid little or no income tax has been hovering around 44%. While not paying income tax does not necessarily mean that a person does not work or earn an income, approx. 59 million Americans receive welfare every month – mostly SNAP. In 2020, the top 20% of earners paid 78% of federal income taxes. While these 20% of the earners include a small number of extremely rich individuals, small middleclass businesses make up the largest tax paying group and are also the nation’s largest employer.

Clearly, what holds our economy and our civil society together is not the small group of billionaires and super-large business nor is it the massive number of people who cannot or will not earn enough income to carry their own weight and pay taxes. It is the small business owner, the middleclass entrepreneur that keeps things going.

These people are not geniuses or elitist intellectuals. They are hard workers, although Marx would not even consider them “workers”. They are intelligent, creative, energetic, and industrious. They get up early every day and go to work and they do not only carry their own weight but also the weight of the millions who are net takers of society, who do not generate enough income or don’t work at all and are supported by charity or government programs. They stay on the job, they do not give up easily, and when they fall or fail, they shake off the dust and start over again.

Without these remarkably unremarkable average people there would not be any noteworthy tax income and there would not be any social programs. In fact, without them, society would collapse. Not only in the USA, but worldwide.

Yet, none of the equity preachers recognize the middleclass folks and thank them for their essential and vital contribution to the survival and wellbeing of mankind. Instead, they are criticized for creating value and wanting to own the property, they have mostly created themselves.

We call America a democracy. But we are governed by arrogant elitists most of whom have not created their own wealth through their own work. Check out our Senators and Representatives. Very few of them have created their fortunes and their assets prior to their political careers. Most inherited their wealth, some married it, and others created it through congressional insider trading. Some of them mock us, the people, as stupid, backward, uneducated, unsophisticated, ignorant, selfish, and “clinging to guns and religion” – as Obama put it.

True, democracy is not for elitists. They would fare much better in an aristocracy, where the superior intellect of the elite rules, not the mediocracy of average people and where the governing do not need the consent of the governed.

However, Winston Churchill once said: “…democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (Nov 11, 1947) I think he has a point.

From the viewpoint of the socialist elitist, the American constitution is the epitome of mediocracy. But who would have a greater right to rule the people than the people themselves through a representative system?

Philosophers and artists have always told us that humans a designed for medium conditions. In almost all physical activities animals best humans. Our brain, our intellect, work well in a medium range of the cosmos. They work less well, when we get into the macro or micro cosmos. We are not designed for extreme conditions and this is why wise men have always maintained that we should stay away from them.

In his Nicomachean Ethics Aristoteles argues that true virtue resides in maintaining the “mean” or “middle state” between the extremes. Courage, he said, is the middle state between cowardice and recklessness. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Gautama Buddha taught the “Middle Way”.

Confucius taught that “excess is deficiency”.

Thomas of Aquinas said that “…evil consists in discordance from its rule or measure. Now this may happen either by their exceeding the measure or by falling short of it … Therefore, it is evident that moral virtue observes the mean.”

In Hinduism, Sri Krishna says that “Yoga is not for one who eats too much, or for one who eats too little, nor for one who sleeps too much or who does not sleep enough.” – The middle path again.

Avoiding extremes is not only important in ethics but also in esthetics. The subdivision of a line between two points into two parts in such a way that the proportion between the whole distance and the longer one of its parts is the same as the proportion between the longer part and the shorter part, is called “golden cut” or “sectio aurea”. It was found to be not only the basis of the proportions of the human body by Leonardo da Vinci but has also been established as a general esthetic principle recognized and enjoyed by all humans.

Applying this principle of ideal of proportion in the creation of artwork creates works of art that are esthetically appealing and pleasing, free from all crassness and extremism. The sectio aurea is the golden middle path of art and architecture.

Avoiding extremes is staying on the middle path. The middle path is balance, caution, and moderation. Chemical processes are balance processes. Balance is nature, balance is life. Disease is imbalance. Both in the body and in the mind.

Inevitably, the middle path is also average, medium, mediocre. Let us then praise mediocracy. Without it, there would be no predictability, no possibility to be proactive, no steadiness, no normality. If mankind consisted only of extreme geniuses, it would be a terrible disaster. Imagine: an Einstein at every street corner!

If truth and beauty reside in the golden middle in morals, arts, architecture, and politics, should not the average man, should not mediocracy be praised rather than bashed? Should we not rather be suspicious of elitists who arrogantly signal us that we are all sub-standard deplorables? Should we not reject all ideologies, philosophies, religions, and political doctrines that preach extreme values and extreme behavior?

I think we should.

Well, let’s do it then.

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