Stepping away from the blatantly political for a time has already proven healthy. This morning, an aphorism entered my brain which, in turn, inspired a whole lot of thinking.
Some people demand absolute perfection of all others, but possess no desire for self-improvement.
I’m sure someone else has said similar at some point in time, but nonetheless the thought was inspiring for its completeness. When discussing politics with most people, exceptions are often brought to the table as if they somehow disprove the original assertion. For instance, one might say that a free market solution to healthcare is wrong, because one individual in certain extenuating circumstances might receive inferior care. The imperfection is then championed, weaponized empathy is applied to it, and soon the media talking heads ponder why Republicans want to push granny off a cliff.
Forget the political side of this for a moment and focus on what the real underlying message is. This is imperfect, says the academic, and since it is imperfect it must be discarded.
This same brand of thinking is what leads to excessive legal wrangling over minute issues of grammar. Second amendment opponents will drive themselves into conniption fits over the position of a comma. The point, the spirit of the law, sails right over their heads. They are consumed by a search for perfection, for an absolute set of principles that governs all human interaction without the slightest deviation.
In other words, they demand perfection from all others, while celebrating their own victimhood and eschewing self-improvement.
Those of us with a modicum of sense have long made peace with the fact that anything involving humans is going to lack perfection. The presence of perfection in anything short of the divine is, in fact, prima facie evidence of error. It cannot be perfect, thus either someone is mistaken, or is deceiving you. Demands for perfection should be scoffed at. One may as well demand flying pink unicorns, for all the good it will do.
In this way, academics and media talking heads are prone to treating people as some kind of scientific experiment. The Scientific Method provides us with a situation where a counter-example is proof of error. If, for instance, I were to dispute the claim that, in a vacuum a feather would fall at the same speed as a hammer, one counter-example would prove me wrong. Both were brought to the moon as a sort of amusing demonstration, of course:
With humans, however, it does not work this way. And this is a key problem with the way academics are prone to thinking. If a counter-example is found to disfavored public policy, wrongthink, or politically incorrect thought, that example is deemed sufficient to disprove the theory. If one person suffers because, say, Obamacare is repealed, then it is proof that Obamacare was good, and free market healthcare is bad.
I feel like I’m stating the obvious here, but humans are not feathers and hammers. Conduct your experiment with another set of humans, and you may get an entirely different set of results. These people are committing a category error long before their favored political positions are even properly formed.
The thing to note about folks who think this way is that they rarely reflect inward. They are quick to criticize the imperfections of others, but are loathe to look at themselves under a similar microscope. This is how you can get folks who complain about greedy capitalists, and yet are caught with their hands in the cookie jar, stealing money for themselves. You would think that someone obsessed with perfection would start with himself, but alas, it is rarely so.
Human perfection is impossible, short of divine intervention. And whatever else academics might believe, they are certainly not gods. Hell, even the Greek gods had less personal problems than they do.