Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Perfect as Perfect Can Be

When I think back to my early years in Sunday School class, it's amazing I wasn't driven stark raving mad by age 8 or 9. One of the chief messages impressed upon our young, developing minds was that we each should always strive for perfection. Of course, after having this idea drummed into our heads year after year, we were then told that humans, by our sinful nature, could never come close to the sought after perfect state.

Even at a young age, this dichotomy boggled my mind! If not one of us has the capability even of landing in the neighborhood of perfection, why aim for it? Why set up humanity for the inevitable failure? Targeting an attainable goal -- like near perfection, excellent or really damn good -- would seem far more reasonable because, though a great number of folks wouldn't climb as high as this rung, many would succeed. They would become the role models for the rest of us to emulate.

By the time I reached my college years, the probing question on my mind was: Who says people can't be perfect? While I granted it would be very difficult to accomplish, I believed that, if each of us set our minds to it, we could accomplish anything.

But as I entered my 30s, I began to question the entire concept of perfection. From a Christian standpoint, we're taught that God embodies perfection. And who informs us of this? God himself! Since we don't have the intellectual ability to verify this assertion, how do we know if it's true or not? Maybe God is just like the rest of us in that he doesn't like to admit his own shortcomings.

From a Taoist perspective, many believe that nature is perfect. Again, we have no way to verify this. For all we know, nature may take a lot of missteps along the way and simply have the ability to self-correct...most of the time.

I think this whole idea of perfection arose because of humankind's imperfect nature. We assumed that if we're imperfect, something somewhere must be our opposite. If mortals are imperfect, then the celestial beings must be perfect.

I've basically removed the concept of perfection from my mind's eye. For me, the concept exemplifies a static state and our universe is anything but static. There are far too many variables and perspectives -- What might be perfect from one perspective may be wholly imperfect from another.

More importantly, if there is some personified being looking over us, wouldn't this entity be constantly striving to perfect its perfection? If so, then perfection itself would never be reached because every state of being would lead to the next and on and on.

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