Eu já postei aqui antes sobre o good enough, mas ficou no meio de outras tantas coisas que acho que as pessoas não apreciaram a importância dessa visão. Reposto então as palavras de Timothy Burke sobre o tema. A quem se interessar pelo tema, recomendo os comentários vivamente. Eles problematizam a opção pelo good enough muito bem, especialmente a réplica de Jeff Smith e a tréplica de Burke. Still… Mas enough de preliminares, leiam a coisa toda.
Hang on. Let’s try again. Here’s what I want and I think maybe a lot of people, both Americans and otherwise, want. I want what my colleagues Barry Schwartz and Ken Sharpe call “good enough”. I don’t want to grab for the brass ring, be the alpha male, see my name in lights, have the penthouse apartment on the East Side. I don’t want to write out a lengthy policy manifesto on what American foreign policy towards 21st Century African states should be and then spend the next ten years taking meetings and writing op-eds to push my plan. I just want to do a good job as a teacher and a colleague and a father and a husband and a person. I want to earn a good living and enjoy what pleasures come my way without scheming every day for a better living and pleasures I can never have on what I earn now.
I don’t want to care very much about whether one particular implementation of TARP or another is better. I don’t want to insist that my kid’s teachers and school need to follow my exact pedagogical preferences. I don’t want to bring a court case because this one time somebody had my kid be part of a moment of silence before a fifth-grade class. I don’t want to regard myself as endlessly called upon to personally participate in the righting of every wrong I can see, understand or know about. I want to flip Marx around and get to the point where most of the time, the point of thinking and talking and writing is not to change the world but just interpret it and enjoy the interpretations of others.
Flip it. I don’t want anybody telling me what the fuck to do in my house. I don’t want my kid’s pediatrician who I otherwise like to quote me media effects research that I know a great deal about and regard with skepticism and make my daughter recite the appropriate catechism in order to get out of the annual exam without a lecture. I don’t want the guy down the street and his co-religionists to start relentlessly lobbying the school board to remove references to evolution from high school biology class. I want fellow professionals who push constantly for ever-more insane levels of meritocratic pressure to be structurally and culturally inflicted on our kids (or on my students at Swarthmore) to just cool it in public, if they have to be tiger moms and dads, to keep that as private as they would if their sex lives involved razor play and urinating on each other. I want to accept and marvel at human resiliency rather than build an endless managerial and supervisory apparatus for preemptively protecting every potentially vulnerable person from every potential kind of trespass or offense. I want rules and strictures to be a last resort rather than a leading preference.
In short, my political aspirations at this point could be summed up pretty well by Jon Stewart’s plea to just chill the fuck out, America, take the temperature down. Do reasonable things. Appreciate the genuinely tough questions in life and politics for what they are, and appreciate the different answers that people come up with to those questions. I think there is, if not a “moral majority”, a decent majority, a mellowable majority, who pretty much also just want life to be good enough.
A politics of “good enough” is not Obama’s politics. I don’t think there’s been a President in my life who more thoroughly represented a relentlessly meritocratic ethos and social constituency. He might be able to handle the chill out part, though, which the Republican Party and their loyalists absolutely and viscerally reject. But “good enough” and “chill out” are not particularly a big part of the discursive culture of online discussion either, and not particularly a common sentiment in the sociocultural world of professionals, academic or otherwise. So it is not just our leaders who would need to represent a mellower and more mature majority, but at least some of us who would need to tweak habits and practices, spend less time vigilantly patrolling the walls of our sometimes vanishingly small redoubts and more time hosting an open house.
There will still be plenty of unacceptable shit to be outraged by, plenty of things to care passionately about, plenty of good work for good people to undertake as well as plenty of barricades which must at all costs be manned.