In search of . . .
Generally, I do not like politicians. I simply do not trust their motives for running for elective offices; I honestly believe that most politicians are primarily interested in personal gain rather than serving the people who elected them. If we lived in a perfect world, every politician would exhibit the same love of country, the same selfless devotion as our lowest ranking soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine. One does not see privates, seamen, or airmen taking bribes from foreign interests; politicians do not risk their lives for America. But of course, we do not live in a perfect world.
George W. Bush is not perfect (even though I supported him twice), nor any of the members of his administration; he’s made mistakes that affect my country in the most acute way. Yet, in spite of his mistakes, I think that Mr. Bush is doing his level best in confronting global and domestic challenges. If the American people are looking for a perfect president, they are likely to be disappointed because I don’t think we’ve ever had one. And as much as I admire George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt, they were far from perfect.
Our religious leaders are not perfect, either. No matter how much we admire or respect them, for what they say or do, for their devotion to their beliefs and those who follow them, we are often disappointed. They say things that we disagree with, and there are times when their fundamentalism causes us a great deal of concern. I frequently wonder, having read the Bible, where they are getting some of their ideas. I think that too many of these men of the cloth are zealots, and in my view, such people (no matter what the underlying theology) are dangerous to a free society. But of course, all this simply means that religious leaders are far from perfect.
Jesus of Nazareth, who I admire at many levels, did many good things in his scant 33 years. Yet, in the final moments of his life, this man who many believe was the Son of God, questioned his Holy Father. In doing so, he underscored his humanity and demonstrated that he too was imperfect. Still, among those who we remember as having made significant contributions (whether positive or negative), Jesus of Nazareth was as close to being perfect as any other, and yet he was crucified.
Is it human nature to demand more than it is possible for people to deliver? Is our standard of expectation too high? Does this expectation spill over into our personal relationships, and could this be a factor in high divorce rates in this country? Our children, who we dearly love, routinely disappoint us; is it because we looking for perfection? Are we likely to find perfection in our spouses, our children, or our parents and siblings?
The vetting of all those who bear some responsibility for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is coming as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow. It is natural to ask questions, to find areas that warrant criticism, because we want to “get better,” both as a nation, and as a society. We ought to try to do that, of course — and as painful as it might be for some, vetting is part of progress. At the same time, we should remember that there are no perfect people. Relatively speaking, some people are better leaders. Some people are incompetent, while others are exceptional. We can strive to be better leaders, employees, husbands, parents, but we will never achieve perfection because we live in an imperfect world. If we are looking for answers, let’s start with that premise — and in the search for solutions, is it possible for once that we can go about the business of America without being petty?
Of course, I am not holding my breath. Clearly, some of us (politicians) are more imperfect than others.