Several events in the past few months have made me ponder on how imperfection is perceived and treated in our society. How do we handle the truth of our fallibility? How do we move on after we fall or make wrong choices?
Believe it or not, everyone of us will fall or make wrong choices at some point in our lifetime. While some of us will be privileged to have our fall less visible and carefully hidden from the world, other people’s fall will be evident, public, and shameful.
History has a rich record of great men and women who, regardless their religious orientations or preferences, fell and made wrong choices. However, what is most notable about these people is that their mistakes did not stop them from achieving their set goals. They picked up themselves, went back to the drawing board, and accomplished great feats that the world still celebrates today. In other words, their falls became launching pads instead of stumbling blocks.
Sadly, this is no longer our reality in modern times. The way the society attacks and kicks at men and women who have fallen from high positions of authority is very heart-breaking and troubling. Every now and then, I pause to wonder where this disdain for imperfection originates from.
Though I haven’t lived for a very long time, experience has taught me that fallibility is inherent in the human nature and allowances should be made for it in our social fabric. The twisted ideology of perfection should never rob us of the ability to empathize with people who have fallen or made wrong choices.
I also find it very worrisome that our institutions – religious, educational, cultural, and political – have enshrined the ideology of perfection. This explains why the society goes agog with skepticism whenever ‘fallen’ people show interest in running for political positions.
The society closes its eyes to the fact that these people have paid the price for their wrong choices and have, in a literal sense, redeemed themselves. Its disdain is so palpable that ‘fallen’ people have to drop out of political races, regardless how genuine and feasible their visions are.
If the ideology of perfection is not attacked at its root, we are going to keep losing the agents of change and development that our society sorely desires.
I strongly believe that we need to understand and accept that it is okay to imperfect. However, we also need to realize that embracing imperfection does not negate the need for us to strive for a better life. It keeps us from engaging in unhealthy comparison and reassures us that we can be better versions of ourselves.
In the movie, Darkest Hour (2017), Clementine Churchill proved her deep understanding of imperfection when she told her husband, Winston Churchill, ‘You are strong because you are imperfect. You are wise because you have doubts.’
I believe that we need more profound quotes like this to jolt us out of believing that we need to attain certain level of perfection to gain acceptance. Now more than ever, we need to realize that the seed of greatness we carry can only grow into oaks of greatness when planted in the soil of imperfection. That is, knowing that we can fail and not being afraid able to try.
Flip through the pages of history and take a walk through the museum of time. You will notice that every feat and accomplishment we celebrate in this age was born out of imperfection. They were achieved by people who knew they could fall. Some actually fell at some point but they learnt an important lesson – ‘How not to Do Things.’
Knowing this, why then do we disdain imperfection? Why do we keep saying that ‘no perfect man exists’, yet our standards, qualities, requirements, and preferences are premised on perfection?
I propose that now is the best time for us to take charge and change the narrative surrounding imperfection. Our ‘better society’ can only be built when we embrace our imperfection, learn to see each other for who we truly are, and choose to work together regardless our differences. This way, we will set aside all unhealthy comparisons and focus on harnessing the strength in our diversity.
Today, I recommit to embracing my imperfection and harnessing the greatness it carries. I invite you to do the same because together, we can build a world that works.