With the news of riots in the suburbs of St. Louis and the suicide of comedic actor Robin Williams, it gave me pause to reflect upon a trend.

A black teenage boy was shot and killed by a police officer in Missouri and property damage with looting occurred.  Storefront windows were broken out by those rioters who found it a privilege to steal and burn businesses to the ground.  We were later told that many who were arrested weren’t even from that community and had criminal records.

I was a fan of Robin Williams; he was a wonderful talent, but troubled.  He had it all, but he felt like he had nothing.  He could make others laugh, but he was miserable inside.  I’ve been told life’s a perception, it’s what you make of it, and I’m sure there’s a lot of credence in that.

I wrote a piece on July 15, 2012 titled: “Is Mediocrity the New Norm?”  It drew acclaim from editors around the country and my audience of readers.

Stockton, California had filed bankruptcy.  Since then, Detroit, an even larger city, has done likewise.

8 million Americans were on Social Security disability and a record 45 million were on food stamps – those numbers have grown dramatically since.

I asked, “Is a mediocre pursuit of happiness the new norm for America?”

Here are some excerpts from that piece:

“Public perception used to be it was shameful to be on welfare and food stamps – is mediocrity now the norm?

Is trifleness the new norm when it comes to education as well?  Is it to be expected that half of all college grads can’t find work even though they’ve spent thousands of dollars, and went in debt to do so, to obtain a degree that may or may not suffice anymore?

Society has fallen prey to a progressively bent logic, which isn’t really progressive at all but regressive, that says everyone gets a trophy.  To say all children must be dealt the same rewards, that none should suffer any measure of sensory failure, is a damning venture that has caused more harm than good.

For many Americans it’s not in their DNA to do just enough to get by.  Yet for many more they see life as mediocre at best and the entitlement stigma they feel they deserve has attached itself.

The American dream imparts that hard work and determination isn’t some novelty and success can be accomplished by anyone.

I’m sure many have failed to recognize the socialist plight that has plagued us.”

President George W. Bush coined the phrase “The soft bigotry of low expectations” in a speech he once gave.

We now have a President who was elected twice and has a job approval rating plummeting by the day.  Many of those who voted for Barack Obama are having buyer’s remorse, but many more feel he’s the greatest President we’ve ever had.  While the world burns, the President’s lack of concern is played out on a golf course at a vacation spot in Martha’s Vineyard.

The soft bigotry of low expectations is a two-way street.  Many in the poor community feel they’re destined for poverty, so they make a career of welfare.  That mindset is delusional at best, for with hard work anything can be accomplished.

An elementary school teacher once told me I was destined to ride on the back of a garbage truck.  Her words were condescending and distasteful.  Family members have told me throughout the course of my life I won’t amount to much.  Their boast hasn’t exactly been reassuring, but I ignored them.

If a youngster feels 2 + 2 = 5, according to the Common Core theory of revolutionary thinking, he wouldn’t be wrong.  Ending it, when you have it all, like Robin Williams, defies logic when you have so much to live for.  Seizing the opportunity to destroy property and steal doesn’t help any cause and is frowned upon by the public.  However, in the realm of soft bigotry of low expectations, mediocrity can be the norm for any individual who lets it.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org.

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