The law of averages is a layman’s term used to express a belief that outcomes of a random event will “even out” within a small sample. Taken from a different standpoint, one could make the argument that left to our own devices or proclivities, each one of us would not be considered average, would not be part of the “evening out”. However, we are a product of society, and as such we are influenced to move toward that average, like it or not.
David Riesman in his book The Lonely Crowd, makes this statement: “The idea that men are created equal and free is both true and misleading; men are created different; they lose their social freedom and their individual autonomy in seeking to become like each other.”
We see a lot of this “seeking to be like each other”, in today’s political environment, social environment, and even in our religious environment. You must think like the party or you will be ostracized, or worse, “primaried”! Socially, there are some specifics that you must say or do or own, if you are to stay in the “crowd”. And then there is religion. It is not always between you and God. Too often your relationship with God is crowded out by the “entertainment factor”, social influences and the demand, unspoken, that you “should” be like us!
You only need to observe children as they move from childhood to adolescence to know the truth in Riesman’s statement. The cliques—if you are in, great! If you are not – you are really out of it. The unique character in high school, the nerd, the loner, could be branded by many different names and attitudes. That “geeky” guy may lose some social freedom in that high school environment, but, in all likelihood, may gain autonomy, individuality, and character. One could argue that this isn’t all bad.
Bill Mauldin has said: “I feel like a fugitive from the law of averages”. There is no question that Mauldin was not “average”. An editorial cartoonist, he is most famous for his depicting of GIs in the field during World War II. For his work he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. No, he was not average.
I wonder if most of us would rather be a “fugitive from the law of averages” than go through life as an average “Joe” or “Jane”. Indelible characters, or even that quirky individual you remember, whose personality stays in your mind, all these are not average. Often they are not accepted by the crowd. There is something very impressive, and often courageous, about an individual who stands firm on their core beliefs, while running away from group influences.
Are you average? You are? I’m sorry!
John Wayne, in giving advice on acting, has said “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.” He obviously followed his own advice and built a movie star career on talking low, talking slow and not saying much…followed by action!
So in the Words of The Duke: “Life is tough, but it is tougher when you are stupid, so podner, get off your horse and drink your milk.”
For What It’s Worth.