There are a number of words in the English language that function as absolute modifiers: perfect, unique, fatal, identical and many others. What all these words have in common is their certainty and indisputable nature. What is unique is unique and is not more or less unique than others. Likewise, what is perfect is perfect; there is no such thing as something more or less perfect than others.
The word perfect represents the epitome of their “lesser” cousins like good, great, excellent – words that have degrees of subjectivity. What separates the good cousins from that perfect cousin are a number of other good cousins. Perfect is the sum of their parts. Only one person is lucky enough to hold the title. But what if I tell you perfection does not exist? Like its underrated cousins, perfect is also a subjective term that has been used and abused throughout history. It has probably hurt more people than any other word in the English language. It has done so much damage because of what it stands for – the subjective and the impossible. Its damage manifests itself when everyone believe that perfection is also within their human reach. This is what happens when the word perfect or perfection is not used in an absolute sense, but in a subjective sense that it can be measured on a continuum. Who is to say that girl has the perfect body? Who is to say that guy is a perfect figure skater or the perfect athlete? It is the imperfect human beings who are the judges of perfection viewing the world through their imperfect lenses. Who is to say the girl next door has the perfect life? There is no such thing as one life being more perfect than any other life.
As long as perfection cannot exist in this world, we should also be mindful of how we converse with each other every day. Words are extremely powerful tools that can heavily impact our thinking. Some people will survive the harsh power of words, but others will be deeply affected. As ordinary citizens with little power to control what happens in the world, there are definitely small steps we can take to improve our every day life. We are in control of our language through speaking and writing. By simply dropping this absolute modifier where it is not needed, we might just make a difference in the lives of our friends, neighbours and colleagues. Let’s focus on the real and the concrete, shall we? Not some make-believe fairy tale world.
In response to the daily word prompt – Perfection
For those interested in reading another blog post on a related topic, the link can be found here.