Nine months ago, the Daily Word Prompt was “perfection.” I posted a response that formulated my experience with that concept and an important way that my religious tradition helps me be compassionate with human nature, as we continuously fall short of our God-given potential. There really is nothing wrong with having a vision of perfection, if (and it’s a very big IF) it is a motivator, providing ideas and concepts that are guideposts on a realistic life journey.
But as children we are confronted with so many of these images of perfection, real or imaginary, and so often given the message that our only hope is to mold ourselves into those images. Those of us who do not find it easy or even possible, no matter how hard we try, to match the cultural images of perfection and success become engaged in an exhausting spiritual, physical and emotional struggle trying to do so. The idea of perfection can be intimidating and daunting, even as it is held forth as a worthy state to pursue. A careful balance of expectations and abilities is critical and the adults who are role models need to demonstrate respect for the concept, showing with their behavior that they are working toward perfection.
The world has changed a great deal since I was a child, hopefully at least in some ways for the better, but I wonder if it is even harder now for young people to figure out what to strive for. There is such an overwhelming tsunami of ideas and images that seem real, sound true, and look good, but might just as well be virtual reality. So many of the most influential people in our public life, who should be examples of appropriate and compassionate behavior, instead cook up a daily diet of alternative facts and perceptions, spin, obfuscation, hateful and divisive messages, and outright deception.
Ordinary. It so often seems to be perceived as an insult, an indication of a less desirable state. Not perfect, not even really good; just ordinary, common, plain. Nothing special. But ordinary is also what is expected, usual, a daily occurrence, not special because it is common. Decency, politeness, concern for others, speaking the truth and using our potential to help create a better world should be common, expected, normal behavior, in other words, ORDINARY.