Do we dare say that we recognise perfection at first glance? Do we dare admit that we know what it feels like to have the best thing, person or memory in the world? Or even more brazenly, do we dare call ourselves perfect? I’m not sure about you, but I have yet to meet anyone audacious enough to declare that they know what perfection is, whether they claim to be the perfect person or not. Call them ballsy, arrogant or presumptuous, but I think it would be really intriguing to meet someone who makes such claims, just so we can get a look into what he or she deems to be ideal, and delve into what constitutes his or her interpretation of perfection. It might not be the easiest or most comfortable conversation to have, but difficult conversations are breeding ground for much thought.
We are all intrigued by the idea of perfection. Although we might not want to admit it, we are all also searching for perfection, whether in ourselves or other people. Perfection as a concept feels so achievable at times, yet so elusive at others. So, is perfection something subjective? Up to the beholder to gauge and determine? Or is it something we as a humanity strive to achieve together and collectively? I believe it’s the latter and I will attempt to expound on why I think so.
Although everyone’s definition of a “perfect guy”, “perfect holiday” or “perfect job” may differ, I think we are all searching for something fundamentally similar from these ideals- fulfilment and satisfaction. Although our indicia may vary, we ultimately hope they fulfil an underlying longing within us to be happy, contended and worthy. I suppose these things would be able to carry out their role for a period of time in our lives. The “perfect holiday” may make us feel blissful whilst we are on it; the “perfect job” may make us hop out of bed every morning in anticipation, and even the acknowledgement that the work we do is difficult will still make us giddy with excitement if we know we can tackle it. However, I can’t help but wonder if we see the temporality of these perfect things, that no matter how good and bountiful they may be, these things will eventually pass.
We cannot afford to be unaware of their temporality. The life motto of play hard, die rich that too many of us embody will not tide us through the existential crises we may face; the pursuit of perfection at all costs, or even some costs, is something extremely dangerous. This is, of course, not saying that this world is a completely horrible, unlovable place, or that we should just slum about and groan about the end days. We are built with a mind to think and a body to mend. But like anything worth tackling, we should stop and analyse it comprehensively. Many of us are attempting to solve the problem without even knowing how to define it. What is wrong with the world today? Maybe it’s social structures that perpetuate injustice. Maybe it’s selfish dictatorship that causes the undue loss of lives. We may like to think that the problem is external to our insulated lives, but it’s not. We are all imperfect beings caught in an imperfect world. Our workmanship will always be tainted with imperfection. Once we recognise that we are not capable of achieving perfection for our own lives in a way that is holistic, complete and all-encompassing, then only will we begin to see why we are falling short of creating the perfect world.
In the 20th century, TIMES magazine sent out a question to famous authors asking them what they think is wrong with the world. G.K. Chesterton responded simply with:
Yours, G.K. Chesterton”
We are the problem. Not seeing that we are the problem is also part of the problem. I could list out a lot of times I discovered a new flaw of mine, but that would not be serving any purpose. A little reflection on both our parts will suffice. Thankfully though, we can also be part of the solution. If we engage with the world with something more than tactful pitches and wishy-washy goals, then we can truly be part of a redemptive plan that is underway, in order to bring about the glorious possibilities of our world. It will affect everything. Think about a world where we can enjoy coffee without worrying who we’re exploiting; or savour the untainted beauty of nature without worrying about or greedy poachers lurking nearby, to say the least. We are not removed from this imperfect world. In fact, we helped create it. Do we not see it?