#96 – Dick Bernard: "…above average"?

Likely since Garrison Keillor’s fertile imagination invented Lake Wobegon in the 1970s, he’s had the mantra: “where all the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are above-average.”
On has to wonder where those “above average” children end up….
Today’s paper reveals that my local Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, is to be Miss November on a national conservative groups 2010 calendar.  Presumably plenty of people will pay $25 for the calendar.  I won’t be among them.
Cong. Bachmann  has a talent for getting her pretty face on television…and now calendars…and for getting soundbites quoted, and being an on-air guest on all manner of right-wing talk shows.  But beyond that gift, I often wonder what is behind the facade, and the latest honor she receives has caused me to remember some other sound bites from previous conversations.
For instance:
More than once I heard a guy who frequently testified on this or that matter before U.S. Congressional Committees note how little collective brainpower he witnessed on the other side of the table.   There was very little there, there, he observed.  Of course he flattered the people with the good hair-do’s and mellifluous voices – that was his job – but beneath the facade he saw little or nothing.
In an unguarded moment, once, a veteran and highly respected Catholic Priest made essentially the same comment about the collective Catholic hierarchy (those who are Bishops and on up the ladder).   They are not intellectual giants, he suggested; rather, they have figured out how to move up the hierarchical ladder.
And more than once I’ve heard retirees or other refugees from major corporations comment on the relative lack of ability the big-shots far up their food chain possess – at least in so far as monitoring major corporate decision making is concerned.  Their ability was to achieve the pinnacle of power, by whatever means necessary.  But their vision rarely was beyond the next quarter profit and loss statement.  We saw plenty of evidence of this stupidity during the last 12 months (and, unfortunately, seeming to continue) in the virtual collapse of the U.S. economic and industrial titans.  Even after the bail-out, disturbing reports suggest they haven’t learned anything of value.
So, where did these “above average” children Garrison Keillor go, or have they never existed?
That we’re led by too many bumble-heads is pretty obvious (Rep. Bachmann is also a new bobble-head figure).
If we the public end up in a disaster, which is again likely, be it economic, climate, or the like, it is because we seem to insist on mediocrity in our leaders.  We actually vote for these dunces, or if we don’t vote for them, we defer to them because they seem more powerful than we are.
We vote for people to represent us who look or sound good but often are know-nothings; then once they are elected, we go back into our hole and assume no responsibility for keeping them informed or honest.
Too many of us dismiss science or a rational look at future consequences of our actions, preferring to believe fantasies.  (Scientists have known for years of the problems ahead with climate change, but until Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, there was hardly a public listening…and of course the bobble-heads then ridiculed Al Gore, and continue with their fantasy views of a future filled with climate and weather like we’ve always known…or dismissing the future as someone elses problem.)
We buy stuff we don’t need based on fantasy of advertising…like lemmings to the ocean and certain death, we believe the pitches and the clever word and image-smithing.
We seem to delight in cleverly told lies which manipulate us; and we celebrate division and conflict, when such values are more negative than positive.
We cannot eliminate stupidity in our elected, religious and corporate leaders.
But the big majority of us who are average and above-average can certainly do a great deal to temper the stupidity which surrounds us.
To accomplish this goal, however, takes much more than complaining about it.
What have YOU done, lately?
What will YOU do, today, tomorrow, next week?