Spiritual Reflections

Of Imperfections and Imperceptions

Have you ever felt so frustrated in front of a mirror, trying so hard to see that one spot that your mirror can’t reflect? No matter how much or what we try, we always will have that blind spot— a facet that even awareness can’t resolve. It eludes our sight, our very senses. We know that it’s there, but we can’t seem to tell because of our own limitations. Limitations that are both innate and adopted.

And so it is with people.

Let’s admit it: Understanding other people is hard. Understanding your own self is already hard. We have various blind spots, both natural and developed.

How often have you complained how you can’t understand why some children treat their parents wrongly? How often have we complained why some parents treat their children wrongly?

How often have we criticized other people’s behavior and/or misbehavior? How often have we judged people, only to realize that we may have been a bit unfair towards them?

I write not to say that we should not judge others; no, it is part of our nature and disposition to judge— whether it be ordained by God or not is up to your faith or lack thereof. Rather, I write to reflect on how often we fail as judges, and that by becoming aware of this fault, we may yearn and strive to meet the expectations of the One who entrusted this responsibility and accountability to us.

Why we judge at all is altogether another lengthy topic, to which I may have to digress for now.

That being said, the chief defect in our judgment is the imperception and our imperfection.

Imperceptions, that lack of awareness or understanding, is often born from our prejudices. We should not mistake misperception with imperception: one deals with knowing yet misunderstanding, the other deals with not knowing which leads to misunderstanding. Our faulty logic tend to fill in the void of information with derivative assumptions. They say that if only we can read one another’s minds, we might have a more peaceful world. But that is not true. Just knowing someone else’s thoughts can be as destructive unless we can see beyond the thoughts themselves and into what brought about those thoughts. For one man’s thoughts may be filled with rage due to a sense of justice, or another driven to deception in order to protect someone else.

Our imperceptions often cause us rashly judge people; we observe, we pick categories to which they fit, we label them according to our personal manual and handbook of our own selves on how we perceive other people. It can happen that because of how routinary the behavioral pattern one may exhibit, we may catalogues our interpretation as facts. After all, it’s not always that easy nor simple to just confront someone about their behavior; in fact, it may even be counter-productive, as they may also limit their own personal revelations, or may have limited perceptions of their own selves.

However, it is near-impossible to achieve perfect perception. For that entails perfect knowledge and wisdom, something that is beyond us humans both now or in the future. We can only try our best to widen our own perspectives, and do our best with the available information that will give us the best possible perception within the limitations we live with.

Our imperfection then lies with our malice— this moral infection that mimics our best intentions and corrupts them. For with malice, even well-meant words are laced with poison; with malice, every good deed is viewed with suspicion. This malice breeds on our unguided thoughts of worries, our doubts, our fears. These are not by themselves evil: fear allows us to stray from danger, doubts leads us to seek the truth, and worries would always bring us at the feet of hope. But without restraint and/or direction, these can be circumvented into despair.

What can we do then with this problem?

Resolving the problem of imperfection has been the quest of a lot of philosophers and religions. But simply being aware of this imperfection will not lead to its resolution. This is why the claimed perfection of Christ Jesus has been the crux of almost every moral, religious or spiritual debate. This is why many people are unsettled and uncomfortable with Christianity: for it robs us of the hope in our own salvation, yet offers us the only true salvation through God. For as mortals, we have subconsciously been worshipping our own humanity, denying a need for God or someone else to mend our brokenness, to wash our filth, to release us from imprisonment. This is our true nature of our imperfection.

What then?

The rest of my argument, I leave to the Bible for better answers.

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