Monday, November 13, 2006
Imperfection and Blame
It transpired, the other day, that British Gas had managed to do what my genetic mapping had failed to do for over sixty years. It had given me a completely new identity, including gender. I had become Anthea Saimon; this, despite BG being the recipient of four years of direct debit under my better known, masculine persona. As always happens, a train of thought developed. The first station it stopped at was one that embodied the flights of hypocrisy of politicians, leaders, media hacks and celebrities; those often pock-marked standard bearers of righteousness. Thence it slithered further down the rails through an every day deluge of faultiness, ineptitude, error, excess and miscommunication that befall us on our daily round from home to work and back again.
The journey was a well worn one. It had the tedium of familiarity clackety clacketing through it. People, it chuntered, often seem to have a high propensity for low competence. They can miss deadlines, evade difficult challenges, underperform regularly and, yet, taken overall, seem pleased to ‘get by’. This may be at work, at home, at leisure, as a parent, a worker or a friend. Wherever we look for evidence, from the Big Picture – the way we treat the planet – to the Little Picture, the way we manage the seconds, minutes, hours and days of our lives, we see imperfection, obsolescence, approximation and, at best, a partial sense of attainment. In human enterprise, excellence is rare, perfection a mirage.
Why then do we constantly cavil at everything around us?
It is because we are flawed but don’t wish to face it. To do so would be to admit that we will never close the gap between who we would like to be and who we are. So we fulminate against the world, making so much noise that we cannot hear our self-critical thoughts. It is our condition. The miracle is that, either individually or in groups or in societies, we get anything done at all.
Of course it is hard to cope with this realpolitik in our personalities. We prefer our glossed-over fantasies of who we are and what we can do.
Lack of self-awareness is the greatest curse of the human condition.