The hero is the champion of things becoming, not of thing become, because he is. He does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, not is he fearful of the next moment.

Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey (gendered language in the original)
Photo by Micah Boerma on

Nobody is perfect. A desire for purity of anything is ultimately destructive, if not murderous. We need to recognise that being human is a process of becoming. We are every changing and perfecting ourselves a little more into the next moment.

With the rise of ideological and social conflicts in the last decade, we have seen the rise of a new standard of perfection. If you do not meet that standard you are to be reviled, excluded or forgotten. One only need look to the 20th century to see how standards of perfection become tests of purity, murderously so.

Demands for purity in any form is an ethos that is ultimately anti-human, however ideologically appealing it may be. Every human society, every human organisation, and every human is imperfect. Degrees of imperfection vary but nobody is perfect.

Capabilities are better than competencies because they are an open ended standard. Conversations are better than speeches because they allow of correction of errors, learning and evolution of the discussion. Hypotheses can fail. Practices can adapt. Decisions can be reversed and bettered. People surprise us with potential. We can get better.

Human Becoming

We are human becomings, to borrow a phrase. Our pasts are always inadequate for this moment, some times grossly and some times slightly. Purity brooks no difference. The test has been failed. You are and cannot become more. Only those who have held themselves out of the fray in some hermit existence or who are shaping the standards have a hope of going on.

What we are matters less than what we might become. We can forgive ourselves our inadequacies, only if we are in the continuous effort to improve. We need to take action. We can’t fear action because we might be imperfect. We need to take action because we are imperfect. The process of doing is how we learn, get feedback and do better.

We can’t excuse inaction or action because we are imperfect. Our imperfections aren’t an excuse to harm others. We need to build our plans to mitigate our flaws. We need to act with integrity, compassion and care. We can’t assume perfect execution. We need to get on with doing what we can, recognising that nobody is perfect, including us.

moments changing each instant
into the next change,
each change tied to the next.
To be human is to have
a sense of being within self.

Simon J Ortiz, Becoming Human

Only the past is changeless, immobile and gone. We must be ready and willing to do the work in the next moment. If we wait for us or for the moment to be perfect, then life will disappoint us. Worse we will disappoint others.

Look upward. Neither firm nor free,
Purposeless matter hovers in the dark.

Thom Gunn, The Annihilation of Nothing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s