Why Imperfection Makes the World Better

Human imperfection has long been reason for philosophical discussion, scientific inquiry and religious discourse. The idea that there is no living person who is free of the flaws provides a platform for various interpretations of how exactly we should live. Though, for the most part, we are entirely split on how we believe this course of life should manifest itself, it seems the one conclusion that people can agree upon is that man and the world that he is a part of are both burdened and blessed with imperfection. The question of how we can attenuate our flaws is important to many people, with due reason, but I would like to examine the necessity of the world’s—and our own—imperfection, rather than how to fix it.

Each of us came into this world inherently incomplete. We were damaged goods from the start, simply because we had missing parts. Some may disagree and posit that each human being was born a slate of near-perfection, and will only become more imperfect—albeit wiser—over time, due to the inevitability of committing mistakes. However, I argue that we are born inherently imperfect rather than perfect, simply because it is impossible for me to envision a perfect life, if there is such a thing, without the existence of other people with which to build that life. Upon birth, our incomplete nature is exactly what will shape us. One is not born having already been influenced by all of the people who will make an impact on his life’s course, he does not enter the world having braved and learned from lonely nights trapped in the recesses of his own mind, he does not come out of the womb having experienced the miracle of falling in love, nor does he begin his life with the knowledge of past mistakes and the wisdom to not make them again. We are born without the learning experiences that both haunt and protect us, and with the fallibility that we will have mistakes to learn from, to begin with.

Just as each of us came into this world incomplete, the world itself was incomplete before our arrival. We were born with missing pieces, just as the world itself was a little more empty before our arrival, becoming closer to perfect once we arrived. Though each of us are surely not the single most important nor the most interesting people in the world, each of our lives, were in a sense, waiting for us to arrive. The circumstances in which we were born into—in essence, the bubble of our “lives”—existed before we did. Our parents did not meet when we were born, our homes were not constructed on the day of our birth, nor was the hospital in which we were delivered. The world conformed to our entrance, and did so willingly. Each of us arrived perfectly on schedule, and filled an undeniable void in the life of the world and those in it.

We spend our lives searching for and fulfilling some sort of meaning with the hope that our existence is not in vain. We search alongside our fellow man, and this proximity presupposes a certain destiny in playing a role—either central or peripheral—in filling the incomplete places in other people’s lives. Perhaps we will be aware of these roles and perhaps we will not be; the unpredictability and general deficiency in awareness of how our lives and actions will interact with those around us is precisely what makes imperfection so beautiful. Without knowing, we may be making the lives of others more whole. As people, we’re all a little damaged, and perhaps that is exactly what makes life and those in it so interesting. We wonder why anyone would ever accept our brokenness, without realizing that that is precisely what we do for others. Knowingly, or unknowingly, we take each other as we are, with the hope that together we can build something better than what we were given. This is the idea upon which friendship, romance, and collaboration are built upon. Each, through the imperfections and mistakes of the people involved, grow into an entity bigger than those who compose it, and are bound by the individual experiences, mistakes, and ultimately, imperfections.

It is human nature to turn hardship and brokenness into something better—the existence of religion, of medicine, philosophy, science, and any other discipline presuppose some sort of imperfection that we attempt to analyze, improve, and use to better explain the purpose of our own small role in the world. Being provided the opportunity to play the flawed game of life with our fellow man is a beautiful thing; we realize that some have been dealt a tougher hand than our own—maybe our own hands are tougher than many others. That said, life is about figuring out which cards we are able and willing to give people in order to improve their hands. The sooner we realize we are not playing against, but rather with one another, the better we will be able to use each other in order to leave behind a game that is a little less broken and a little more substantial than our individual lives. Our cards have never been, are not, and will never be perfect, and eventually, we all will fold. Yet, when our goal is to play so that our cards may contribute to better the hands of others, and theirs to ours, though we will never win, maybe none of us ever really lose, either.


Image courtesy of Ken Bosma, Flickr Creative Commons


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