December 5, 2018 |
I like Corporal Jack Jones of BBC TV’s Dad’s Army fame. Anyone old enough to remember the capers of the geriatric home guard will remember how he couldn’t come to attention at the same time as the rest of the platoon, his penchant for the ladies, and his undying devotion to the platoon’s leader, the stoic Captain Mainwaring. The reason that I like him is for all of the above, especially given that old George Mainwaring was a stickler for conformity and upholding the virtues of post-war society. As manager of the local bank, all the captain wanted to do was join the golf club and speak at civic ceremonies.
The irony was that he was deemed ‘only a bank manager’ and not the community leader he aspired to be. Jack Jones was the town’s butcher and so held a much more elevated position within the community. Ladies would queue at his shop with homemade cakes and offers of a liaison in the hope of getting a sausage, as opposed to more corned beef or the dreaded brawn.
Funny then how society determines your worth. You would think that a bank manager would hold a position far greater than the local butcher, but people needed feeding and their ration books only went so far. And funnily enough, the butcher was far more comfortable in his own skin than the bank manager.
So why are people so concerned with conformity and allow society to determine their self-worth? Why, when someone tries to put their head above the parapet, the social snipers are ready to fire bullets of ridicule?
Because society creates mediocrity. It creates a world where the lowest common denominator is the dominant force because, in essence, it is the archetypal school bully with all of the hallmarks of the weak, self-loathing, tyrant who wants to laugh at everyone else to mask his own inadequacies.
Take societal changing innovations such as Facebook and Tesla. People are very quick to attack Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk because they dared do something extraordinary. Okay, there have been some recent, serious breaches in trust, but that could be said for a lot of companies who are not in the public eye. Look at our own industry: new F&B outlets keep popping up everywhere, of different shapes, sizes, cuisines, levels of innovation, while self-titled industry experts gather at expensive conferences pointing fingers and criticising those who tried to do something by themselves, while secretly wishing that they had the kahunas and money to put their experience into action themselves.
But therein lies the difference. Society creates mediocrity and most people would rather be a Captain Mainwaring, hoping for recognition from others, than a Corporal Jones who quite simply marches to a different tune and thereby begrudgingly gains more respect from a society that secretly wants him to fail but also wishes it could be like him. Strange folk aren’t we?
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