Ever since Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the term “excellent” has taken on a bit of a tongue and cheek meaning. Part of the humor comes from these slacker characters co-opting the word “excellent,” which actually stems from the word “excel,” meaning “to do or be better than; surpass” or “to show superiority; surpass others.”
We live in a world fraught with competition but terrified of excellence. A world so uncomfortable with the idea of excelling that school curricula often punish or discourage more intelligent or motivated students just so that they don’t upset the lower tier of the class. In the US, in order to meet state and federal guidelines, teachers must teach solely to obtain certain test scores, which — at least as far back as 1992 — were really about brainwashing and compliance rather than promoting knowledge, critical thought or creativity. If you’ve not seen the video “Who Controls the Children ~ Schools Deliberately Dumb Down Children,” please click here. It’s from an old videotape, but the information’s well documented and eyeopening.
One wonders if Bill & Ted’s lovable buffoonery wasn’t just a clever Hollywood psyop to ridicule the powerful mandate to “be excellent to each other,” or, to strive for and appreciate true excellence. Take a moment to ponder what a different world we’d live in if more people sincerely strove for and appreciated excellence.
During the “Timeline Tune-In and Tune-Up” sessions this month, the concept of excellence keeps appearing. People share with me that they’ve approximated their goals or desires but with a few glaring exceptions that have caused them to fear commitment to whatever they’ve so far managed to manifest. Over and over again, I listen to these amazing clients try to rationalize why they should settle for something less than they prefer, for something or someone less wonderful, less ethical and/or less healthy than their soul longs to experience. I have needed to assure far more than one client that no, they do not have a “commitment issue” for “failing” to settle for “close but no cigar.” They have a “fear of excellence” issue, and that’s a societal problem!
In a world of all possibilities, a world in which we actively co-create, why wouldn’t we imagine, work towards, implement and yes, demand, excellence? Note I did not say “perfection,” that illusive and elusive abstract state that can never come into the world of forms. Perfectionism disempowers and halts creativity by causing people to give up before they’ve even begun. Perfection lives in the world of Platonic forms, whereas excellence exists in the realm of Arts & Sciences, a realm that used to be called “The Humanities.”
Back in the old days, studying the Humanities meant studying Classical Literature, Mathematics and some Sciences. It meant learning how to think for yourself, learning how to build upon society’s previous accomplishments not just for the sake of money, power or raping the Earth faster and harder than your competitor. Studying the Humanities meant discovering what makes humans tick. What factors elevate humans out of the day to day grind of existence and into the realm of visionaries, seekers, builders, and embodiments of the Divine. The Humanities helped humans recognize themselves as sparks of the Divine, and when you know that you are That, you remember to act like it.
College and high school curricula have begun their own book burnings — not always physical, but effective nonetheless. The list of banned or “irrelevant” books and history has grown tremendously in recent years. According to Homeland Security, the Founding Fathers of the United States — certainly not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but highly educated, highly spiritual people who valued liberty and responsibility, people who recognized the need and possibility for something beyond the old royalty model — these Founding Fathers are now classified as “Domestic Terrorists,” along with anyone who shows more than a passing interest in their philosophy or quotes.
The United States used to be a land of individuals who prided themselves on their self-sufficiency, their ability to make do and make new. We were a land of farmers who fostered deep intimacy with the land. All around the world, indigenous and small communities used to experience a similar connection with the Earth. In more recent times, the “exceptionalism” of corporations like Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer, Merck and the major oil companies have instead worked to destroy those connections, rape the planet, poison and weaken not just indigenous societies, but pretty much all human society besides the “upper elite.”
Despite their psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies based on a bizarre sense of lack (even though they own most of the world) and a rapacious need to consume without ceasing, this elite recognizes that excellence comes from ancient knowledge, self respect, working harmoniously with cosmic and natural energies, and the ability for communities to work together. This self-appointed elite is so terrified of competition from an empowered humanity that we get the banning or demonizing of “occult” (hidden) knowledge, millions on the government dole for food, unemployment checks and medicine, the destruction of Nature and ridiculing of astrology, and “Divide and Conquer” at every opportunity.
I would argue — and I do argue in sessions — that the pursuit of, striving for, and demand for excellence is not a selfish endeavor. Again, think of the different world we’d live in if more people pursued, strove for and demanded excellence. These simple ideas of taking pride in one’s work, of working together for the greatest possible achievements that benefit the community, and of “being excellent to each other” are antidotes to the horrible cancer devouring our dystopic world.
The solution to humanity’s problems isn’t to genetically modify babies — which yes, they are already doing, disgusting and creepy though that is. It isn’t genetically modifying “food” so that it can be patented and sprayed with increasingly higher levels of toxins. It isn’t militarizing and destroying every last bastion of freedom and individuality. The solution to dystopia is an acceptance of the natural excellence that flows when people push themselves to learn just a little more, or to refine a creative project or vision to make it just a little more pleasing, harmonious, helpful, and beautiful.
Launching drone attacks and preemptive wars is the opposite of being excellent to each other. Fracking and nuclear bombs are the opposite of being excellent to the Earth and all her creatures, including humanity. We can protest all we want, but eventually all those signs, petitions and shouts are just hot air if we don’t set about offering a better alternative to the way things are. Whenever you refuse to settle and continue to strive for excellence, refine your vision, purify your heart and take action steps to implement those abstractions into tangible form, you are not being selfish. On the contrary! You are being and doing exactly what we most need in this world. As Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
“Be excellent to each other” and the world will change. Come alive and be excellent in all you do, and you will change. You don’t need to be perfect, but self respect and healthy pride go a long way in fostering courage, stamina and a willingness to accept those magical moments of Grace, when the Divine recognizes you “being all that you can be” and inspires and empowers you to step it up a notch. The US Army co-opted “be all that you can be,” so we discount that sentence as a meaningless slogan or — worse –a call to war. What rubbish! Be excellent to each other, including yourself. Be all that you can be, and watch your own life and the world transmute before your very eyes.