• Stephen Warneke

Don't Let Perfect Be The Enemy Of Good



There are many things in our lifetime that when we conceive of how they should be, we imagine perfection. These are things such as systems of government, relationships and partners, jobs, friendships, our homes, and almost everything else.

But, just because something isn’t the best of all conceivable scenarios, doesn’t mean it’s not the best of all possible scenarios. In other words, even though perfection is not possible, we shouldn’t reject the good simply because it is not perfect.

I’m not advocating we just accept all things as they are. I recognize it’s important to grow, evolve, mature, improve, and learn. What I am saying is that as a species it seems we continually forget we are human and therefore reject things, including ourselves, if they are not perfect.

I recently completed my first attempt at Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. I tried this because I was trying to cultivate the mindset that it is life’s imperfections, which are the most beautiful. When I finished, my first thought was, “Well, that didn’t turn out as good as the example photos in the instructions.” Ironically, this is the kind of thinking that went against the very idea of the practice I was trying to create. I started to look at the mug I repaired exactly as it was: perfectly imperfect.

The same is true for police officers and the rule of law. Not only is technology changing the landscape of how we enforce the rule of law, but our enemies and threats are also evolving. And while we are constantly striving to grow, learn and improve– it’s important to realize the complexity of what we are trying to accomplish. Our system is imperfect and always will be; but I believe we get it right over 99% of the time.

I also think that while there’s room for improvement, what we dwell on could use some reprogramming. Law and order are among the top reasons we live so well here in America. Without police officers as the first line of defense, law and order is just a concept that demands no respect. So, let’s not be mad at the authority vested in officers to enforce the laws we have all agreed upon and enacted through our system of government. Let‘s appreciate the men and women who go out there every day and put their life on the line so we can live so wonderfully.

When perfection is the benchmark, our Utopian ideals blind us from the very beauty and enjoyment of a society we have all fought so hard for. It’s an amazing justice system we’ve set up. It addresses millions of possible scenarios, their respective responses, and the process with which to fairly deal with them. Considering what we’ve tasked it with, this system, if you stop and think about it, is achieving pretty amazing results even if they aren’t perfect.