Friday, September 17, 2004

Human Imperfection: The thread that binds

The callous nature of personal judgment – one human being against another – is brought to my attention again. How all too easy it is to exercise, what psychologists have termed, The Fundamental Attribution Error. That is, the human tendency to attribute the ‘imperfection’ of others to internal dispositional factors.

We tend to have a default assumption that what another person does is based more on what kind of person they are rather than the social and environmental forces at work on that person. This general bias to over-emphasise dispositional explanations for behavior, at the expense of situational explanations, is far less likely to occur when evaluating our own behavior. We are much kinder to ourselves. Our own ‘imperfections’ are attributable to external situational factors. This is what we like to believe.

What is it about our own human ‘imperfection’ that threatens us? For surely that is at the root of this fundamental error. We do not accept our own ‘imperfection’ and so we mask it from ourselves. Explain it away to others. "My car would not have spun out and hit the lamppost if it hadn’t been raining". (Never mind the fact that I was driving much too fast for the road conditions).

It seems plausible that the ‘imperfection’ we can not accept within ourselves will induce powerful judgmental feelings towards those others whose lives demonstrate the same ‘imperfection’. Why admit to our own ‘imperfections’ when we can judge others for their’s instead? It is a safe option. Involves much less discomfort.

If we are lucky, we have at least one person in our life who forces us to look at ourselves with an objectivity we might not ordinarily choose. Someone who peels away our mask. Holds a mirror to our face. And a candle. In the depths of ourselves, we respect them for their frankness. Although we may hate them at the time.

Ultimately, of course, we choose to see those things we wish to see. Some things we will eventually choose to confront. Others, we may remain blind to all our lives. And is this not simply an example of the human 'imperfection' we do not tolerate in others? The thread that binds us together in our humanity. The reminder that, beneath our carefully chosen clothing, we all consist of flesh and blood and bone. Perhaps it is this knowledge that makes acceptance of our own 'imperfection' so difficult to acknowledge.


Blogger Actress with Attitude said...

just discovered your blog.
how right you are about "imperfect" people noticing others' imperfections and judging them. This reminds me of the battle in America over legalizing gay marriage. I never knew there was still so much prejudice and judgment toward minorities until this. Sad times.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Mary Desmond said...

Yep I like your english the poetry, i like imperfection too. We like people for their virtues we fall in love with them for their faults. Your imperfection i think is what i like the poetry and the english, it's artifice is perfect in its imperfection.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Lulu said...

Well done. You are a fantastic writer.

5:23 PM  

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