“People don't want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they'll bless and follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking. Anyone who makes a virtue - a highly intellectual virtue - out of what they know to be their sin, their weakness and their guilt... They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors. They don't know that that dream is the infallible proof of mediocrity, because that sort of world is what the man of achievement would not be able to bear”
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Mediocrity could be an understatement when we see things around us. Success of Trump, Addiction to WhatsApp Groups, Extremism, Religious beliefs and everything around us that smells of decadence, has a basis and that lies in the constant activation of our all pervasive mediocre intelligence. This emerges out of the most important stimulus, that is the external environment, of people that comprise of our societal circle. Majority of people, in a societal frame, live a very "normal" life while following a sets of belief systems, superstitions, prejudices etc and their expectations are never clear and hence seldom fulfilled. For fulfilling our falsehood of pride, we always need a messiah and we stay hopeful that such messiah, irrespective of how he/she is and has been, would give us a light after darkness. For example, the people many a times get influenced by a nationalist frenzy when a Hitler invokes the spirit of purity and then all torture at concentration camps gets justified. "The other is bad" resonates well with the masses. In India, where a priest of a temple, who has a history of instigating communal riots and had constantly delivered speeches of hatred in his trajectory of politics is hailed as a savior for the majoritarian mindset. A top leader, similarly is applauded for his honesty and commitment for the Country, although his past speaks of state sponsored communal slander that his followers justify as being necessary to tame "the other". "The other" can represent anything, from Minority groups to those who oppose a system.
Politics is one of the major trigger of dividing the society and the very nature of all systems, including democracy is "compromise" (stated quite a bit by leaders like Obama and Hillary Clinton in the last US elections, justifying it as a virtue of Governing a Country). Hence, the people with "everyday" intelligence look at symbols and the rhetoric that manufactures new symbols. In US, it was in the form of the slogan, "Make America Great Again" and many supporters of Trump have doubts about the promised Greatness and it is still his third month when this piece has been written. Similarly, people with limited intelligence or lack of it voted for BREXIT, propelling the United Kingdom to exit European Union. A large number of people were indulging in Internet Search to understand what exactly was European Union, a day after the voting. This doesn't mean that democracy should be scrapped and we should hunt down all politicians. It only shows that people who accept a cocktail of mediocrity and stupidity are capable of changing the world we live in, forever and it has a cascading effect, at times leading to a catastrophe. The live example is the United States where all environmental statutes are quashed, in favour of an utopian dream of more jobs and development and for next 4 years, sane people are expecting disastrous consequences. Who is responsible for all of this? Some people may argue that the answer is not very linear but truly, it is the voter who got influenced by a mediocre rhetoric.
In contemporary times, people with a very "normal" intelligence accept all the forwarded messages on social media as true. We indulge in social media groups, sharing stale jokes and useless information without a basis and get entertained. There are very few People who write sensible narrative on a high-consumption platform. People who are mediocre and who don't read and write find all of this a good rescue from their mundane monotony. But here also, the political and religious cocktail is served to drive a constant campaign of division, between people and groups. Is there any hope given this context? Mediocre people are always hopeful. In-fact they are happy with the way things are and disguise their stupidity as intelligence. People who observe, think rationally and analyze the facts through data have stark pessimism for the future, considering the present which is being sabotaged by mediocre mindset. We see a surge of right wing and nationalistic politics with hero worship as a precondition served on a platter and people are relishing it. This is a phenomena that we are witnessing but a majority is oblivious to the threat it presents. We don't see a Ministry of Propaganda in any Country (barring perhaps North Korea) but then in this world of specialists, we can "subtly" outsource it through paid media. Interestingly, the media houses that praise the Government are usually hailed as unbiased and truthful and those who don't are labelled as "corrupt and malicious"
This has nothing to do with data but a personal experience. I have found atheists to be more objective than the believers and have better arguments to present about any contemporary issue. As an agnostic/spiritual, I find that refreshing. However, in the larger circle of friends, relatives and other people I know, I find mediocrity as an accepted form of discourse. This is how a Plato and Aristotle would have been frustrated in ancient Greece, where the answers to their logical questions would have been either ignored or thought of, in a negative light and the people of mediocre intelligence would have imagined that those philosophers were in-fact a "threat" to the society.
“In the republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous.”
― Robert G. Ingersoll