Once the bumblebees of this world (Bombus republicanorum) were flying high. Analysts analyzed and the usual commentators commented upon the phenomenon until they went blue in the face trying to explain how it was physically possible, yet none of them managed to add anything to a reality that could easily be seen by all. Simply put, the inconceivable had become the undeniable. Bumblebees ruled. How extraordinary, to wake up one morning and find the bumblebees supreme! It was a riddle of nature that they could even get off the ground, let alone proceed in any direction without bumping headlong into nearly everything in their path. Now to watch them defy the laws of physics and rise to unexpected heights, newly confident of their ability to remain there indefinitely, strained belief. It shouldn’t have, however. The bumblebees’ climb far beyond the seeming limits of their natural capacities had been going on for some time. With low expectations held of them from the start, any success, however slight, could be seen as a triumph of inner gumption over outer appearances. Even miscalculations and setbacks could be explained as part of their learning curve. Bumbling one’s way upward and onward might amount to a new measure of achievement, proof that old standards of assessment no longer applied. Convinced they were making history by having exceeded low expectations, the bumblebees were convinced as well that such a feat deserved high praise. It wasn’t enough that they engaged in their own buzz sessions of mutual congratulation; the entire world should echo their opinion of themselves. Anything less would be cause for questioning the intentions of those who still didn’t seem all that impressed by what they saw. Some bumblebees even went so far as to suggest that any skeptics must have ulterior motives and should, therefore, expect to suffer the consequences of their failure either to acclaim these new masters of flight or to stand motionless in silent awe. Those who attracted such suspicions soon learned the full impact of the warning “Don’t mess with bumblebees!” But cases requiring this kind of response were the exception. So tireless were the bees in proclaiming the marvel of their simply staying aloft, of surviving collisions with the broadside of many a barn as they bumbled about, of not taking a nosedive back to earth every other minute, that many former skeptics eventually reversed course on their own and decided that perhaps lowered expectations weren’t really so bad after all. In fact, they now seemed to believe, if low expectations could make bumblebees look like sovereigns of the stratosphere, then maybe lowering expectations for themselves should be given serious thought as well. What harm could it do?
Copyright © 2003-2004, revised 2008, by Geoffrey Grosshans