The human condition is a broad topic that can be pondered and analyzed from many perspectives: religion, philosophy, history, art, literature, sociology, psychology, and biology. As a short blog topic, it’s too broad. My remarks address our weaknesses or fallibility.
“Do what we will; we are never going to be free of mortality, partiality, fallibility, and error.” – Wendell Berry
There are a ton of books that, to one degree or another, address the topic from some of the many possible perspectives. The books that I’ve enjoyed the most, at least at the time in my life when I read them, were….
Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones by Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. (spiritual and religious view of Franciscan Friar)
The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfections by Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D. (relatively recent, psychiatrist shares stories from his life as examples)
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (a well-known classic)
At some times in our lives, many of us have admired certain people. We may have put them on pedestals and may even have spoken highly of them. Maybe we married them. Then one day we discover something (or the world discovers) about them that removes the adjective ‘flawless’ from our description. This still happens to me, but seldom. Over the years, my discernment has improved and my skeptical nature often needs more proof. People are human.
I know that we are all fallible. We all make mistakes if we make or do anything. Usually, it’s our parents who provide the first clue. Somehow, we are often gifted as teenagers with the wisdom and insight to identify each and every flaw of our parents and anyone else who we consider an authority. Somehow, we overlook the foibles of our friends. And of course we have none, or too many, or we must hide, or we are perfect, and will never make that mistake, depending upon the day of the week, if anything. Confusing? You bet. Human? Absolutely.
In his book, Fr. Groeschel talks about how the righteous and perfectly-well behaved people who follow all the rules are less compassionate and understanding of others. They share few of the human frailties, as least until their foibles are also revealed.
Rosenthal provides examples from his childhood. In Chapter Three, Crime and Punishment, his teacher, Mrs. Z whacked him on his hand for completing an arithmetic assignment before she had finished explaining it. Also, another third grade incident involved a teacher who misspelled rule(a)r. It is naive to think (as many young do) that adults cannot be wrong. But they are, and it is okay.
And that is the point. Do we judge the content of books by the mistakes in it? Do we judge others based on their circumstances, be it through their own fault or not? What do we expect from our fellow human beings? What do we want from them? Why are we this way?
Not long ago I had a discussion with someone regarding universal health care and insurance. When she balked at the concept, she said, “Well then, every alcoholic on every street corner will have it.” I just sat there, speechless.