A culture of mediocrity

I just can't take it anymore! I was going to let it slide as just another aspect of Puerto Rico that I don't understand, but with a full page article in today's El Nuevo Dia, I've got to get this off of my chest. Last Wednesday the Puerto Rico national champion Carolina Gigantes beat the already champion Dominican Republic team in the Caribbean Series. A gentle cushion to soften the blow of losing the series, without a doubt, but certainly not a reason to celebrate. I mean really, who celebrates coming in second place? Did the Chicago Bears celebrate last Sunday after losing to the Indianapolis Colts? Did the Detroit Tigers celebrate last year after losing to the Saint Louis Cardinals in the World Series? Of course not!

Yes it was an important game; not only did we beat the Aguilas Cibaeñas to keep them for completing the series undefeated, but the Gigantes finished the series being able to hold their heads high by ending the series with a win. However, the way the Puerto Rican team danced and gloated was extremely out of proportion. How motivated were the Dominicans anyway? Probably half of the team still had a hangover from celebrating their championship the night before. In my opinion, this is the kind of victory that one pumps his fist at (you know, sticking it to the champions) and running into the dugout with a smile on your face. It was not worthy of the team nor the media to celebrate in such a way that you would think that we actually won the championship.

Why is this so bad?

I'm a culture fanatic, a culture freak. I'm fascinated by what moves a society and the importance we place upon the symbols and actions of a population. So for me, this event and the behavior of the team and media become a symbol. A symbol representing a flaw in our culture. The flaw I refer to is our celebration of mediocrity. Throughout our society I see the majority of our citizens choosing mediocrity over excellence. So I think it is extremely dangerous for celebrities and the media to promote mediocrity. On the contrary, it is their responsibility, especially the media, to expose mediocrity and call it what it really is, accepting inferior results as a model. When we should be pointing to symbols and ideas that inspire us to exceed expectations, we celebrate examples that lower our expectations.

The role of a patriot

As we have seen in the past, whenever anyone criticizes Puerto Rico, our typical response is something like this. Well yes, all of those things someone is saying about us are true, but that's not what we think they should be focusing on. We say it is not fair to portray Puerto Rico as having a flaw. However, as I learned so many times, whoever said life was going to be fair? It is always inconvenient, uncomfortable, and unpopular for anyone to criticize something, but just because it is unpopular doesn't mean we should avoid saying it.

So while I think finishing second in the Caribbean Series is certainly better than finishing last, beating a team that has already clinched the championship and finishing second is not worthy of our celebration. Now my wife has always told me, that's just the way Puerto Ricans are, you know "Areyto" and all that. But I just wonder what kind of damage this type of false celebration and acceptance of mediocrity has done, does, and will continue to do to us.