Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Prof Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Commentary on the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin MaryThe mediocre man likes writers who say neither yes nor no about anything, who never affirm anything, and who pay the same respect to all contradictory opinions.

“Every affirmation is insolent to him because it excludes the contrary proposition. But if someone is a bit friendly and a bit inimical to everything, the mediocre man thinks him wise and reserved, admires his delicacy of thought and extols his talent for making transitions and fine distinctions.

“In order to escape the censure of being intolerant of all those who think forcefully, it is necessary for the mediocre man to take refuge in absolute doubt; and even then he must never call doubt by name. It must be method in terms of modest opinion, respecting the rights of the opposing opinion, and taking on the airs of saying something without saying anything. Each sentence must be prefaced with the sugary periphrases, ‘it seems that,’ or ‘if it is licit to state it this way…’

“When the activist of mediocrity acts, he has only one thing to worry about: the fear of committing himself. He thus expresses a few thoughts with the reserve, timidity and prudence of one fearful that his words will shake the world for their daring.

“Upon judging a book, the first word of the mediocre man always refers to a detail, and usually a detail of style. ‘It is well written,’ says he when the book is common, tepid, colorless, and timid. ‘It is poorly written,’ he says when the work is full of life, when the author makes up his own language as he goes along, when he expresses his thoughts with that daring assurance of a writer’s frankness. The mediocre man detests books that make him reflect. He is pleased by books that are similar to all the others, that coincide with his habits, that do not crack his mold, and that fit into his environment that he knows by heart before reading them, because such books are just like all the others he has read since he learned to read.

“The mediocre man says there is something good and something bad in everything, and that his judgments must not be absolute, etc.

“If someone forcefully affirms the truth, the mediocre man will accuse him of having too much self-confidence. He, who has so much pride, does not know what pride is. He is modest and proud, docile toward Marx and revolted against the Church. His motto is the cry of Joab, ‘I am bold only against God.’

“The mediocre man, in his fear of superior things, says he prizes good sense above all else; but he does not know what good sense is, for by those words he means the denial of everything great.

“The intelligent man raises his head to admire and adore; the mediocre man raises his head to mock; everything above him is ridiculous to him, and to him the infinite is a void.”

It would be necessary to read the above in the original French to get its full flavor. It was written by one of the heroes of militant Catholicism in France, Ernest Hello (1828-1885.)

On reading these observations about the mediocre man, the reader perhaps will have smiled maliciously more than once upon feeling that one or the other applies to so many people in private life, and very especially in public life.

So much is said about conscientization. Are we fully aware of the mediocrity of so many of our “stars?”

Now, to me exposing this mediocrity is a work of national salvation. I will explain.

Having traveled much, I can say, without any crass patriotic vanity, that our Brazilian people are one of the world’s most intelligent. However, I see them wobbling indecisively in the midst of the terrible tangle of their current problems. Here and there, many things seriously threaten to collapse at any moment.

What is lacking in the public life of the nation is a sufficient number of men able to resolve problems.

Above all, I see that those who are able to do something are sparse, inarticulate and bewildered. In short,they are men who together could yet save all, but save nothing instead.

Why is this? Because the legitimate aspirations of peace of this class of men were led astray just after World War II, right at Yalta. The West was thrust toward the swamp of spineless and utopian pacifism – a pacifism that found its most precise expression in so many forms of detente, Ostpolitik and ecumenism.

Affirm nothing, deny nothing, cry out for almost no right, protest against no obscenity, in short, raise up moderation as the supreme rule of thinking and the obligatory element in desiring, feeling and acting: all this hurled the West into the swamp of mediocrity; and, for this reason, the Brazilian people grope lamentably through crises, in spite of the splendid intelligence that God gave it.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the other side of the world laugh at our great misery, which never stops growing for an instant. Their headquarters is in the Kremlin…

I have read about specialists on the Kremlin: kremlinologists When properly oriented, they are of incontestable utility.

But we lack another type of specialist: mediocrologists. What can be won definitively by fighting the Kremlin, reducing its vanguard tower a few centimeters or a few meters, if its adversary, the West, continues to stoop itself in mediocrity? In this downward march, is it not true that we will hit rock bottom long before the Kremlin?

Related Articles: