JournalismPakistan.com Aug 18, 2013
We all want excellence. That goes without saying. Give us the best, we won’t settle for less. We hear it all the time. Every second fellow says it. Give me the best; even the first fellow.
Great, touches the heart. Makes you feel so good that everyone is engaged in this pursuit until it comes to payment time. Then the cookie crumbles soggily and everyone has that sudden desire to settle for seconds.
After all, who needs all these fancy schmancy stuff (so much for excellence) the less expensive option will do very nicely, thank you very much.
Expatland seems to have a special fascination for the adequate. We want excellence but we are not prepared to pay for it.
How many of us in the creative field have heard someone say, oh I can get this done cheaper, why should I pay you so much more. Because I will give you a better result, a far superior end product.
Yes, yes, but who cares, who will even notice, what difference does it make if I can get something worthwhile cheaper, after all you think the people out there can make out which is very good and which is not.
That’s just the point, isn’t it, you would know you settled for less than the best, won’t that upset you?
Not at all, where do you live, I will save money, let me be straight, this excellence thing is subjective, I pay you much more and then somebody may not find it excellent, so why should I bother.
You miss the point again, the aim is to pursue excellence, don’t you see, it is your own capacity to up the stakes and not settle for merely the adequate.
Who’s listening. Whether it is writing, advertising, fashion, theatre, art, science, decor, cuisine, furniture-making, the potter's wheel, the finish doesn’t count any more. There are few takers to honor that extra bit, that little leading edge that makes the excellent stand apart from the sufficient.
Why pay more for a perfectly made sofa when you can get an average one for half price. Why take an original when a copy will do? Why ask for an ad campaign that costs the earth when a cobbled effort could deliver ‘enough’ response. Why seek wordsmiths when hacks abound, why pay the trendsetter when the copycat is cheap and easily available.
So what happens? We sanctify mediocrity, finding virtue where no virtue exists, settling for less than the best only because we don't want to pay for it.
What happens with this dilution at gunpoint is that excellence is not only crippled as an entity but the sights are lowered across the board and the world we live in accepts the second rate as currency.
Often enough those who aspire to being excellent find themselves out of step with the beat and are, perforce, compelled to compromise. That is literally a criminal option but one exercised every minute of the day in every walk of life. People letting themselves down, letting their talent down so they can join the survivor's club rather than be defeated by their own talent.
One begins to wonder sometimes if everything has to be built and created by the lowest bidder.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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