My friend just had a baby-girl, a typical child, and everyone shouted:”she’s perfect, she is just perfect.”
My heart sank a little, because my little girl wasn’t perfect, you see, she was born with Down syndrome, which means she has many cognitive deficiencies and limitations.
I opened my dictionary and looked up the word “perfect.” It said: “conforming absolutely to a description or definition of an ideal type” or “entirely without any flaws, defects or shortcomings.” Now I felt even worse, all the while looking at my beautiful little Christina, who is so full of energy and life.
My friend’s typical baby conformed to a cultural ideal, and did not have any visible defects. “Perfection” stares us in the face every day like a vicious dragon. Just go to the grocery store and look at the magazines, where you can see perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect nails and make-up, perfect homes and cars. Just follow advertisement, it will tell you what “perfect” means. Maybe this kind of thinking is ok when it comes to lifeless objects, but presents a problem when we start to treat human beings as if they are consumer products. Our value should not be measured by our beauty, health and fitness, our skills and productivity, because such thinking leads to destruction, such as depression, suicide, eating-disorders, perfectionism, and much more.
With such thinking, we are seeing the rise of a culture approving of Eugenics, the selective elimination of an unwanted person. We now have technology that allows us to see the unborn child, and doctors together with the parents decide which baby is perfect and which one is defective. Consequently most of the “defective” babies are being aborted.
Women abort for many different reasons: pressure from doctors and family, fear of the unknown, misinformation, and because children with a cognitive challenge can never achieve our cultural standard of a perfect life.
Even the Bible speaks of “being perfect, just like God in heaven is perfect.” But the root of the word perfect comes from the Greek word “telos’, meaning purpose or goal. Could it mean “become who you were created to be and fulfill your purpose on this earth?”
Limitations are part of being human. It means to acknowledge that we are vulnerable, needy, dependent and limited. Our perfection does not come from some kind of cultural ideal that is impossible to reach, and will ultimately destroy us. But instead, being perfect means acknowledging the need for one another, which makes us a community of giving and receiving, instead of valuing people on their productivity, as if they are consumer products. It is our limitations that can make us whole, and they help us to understand what it means to be Perfectly Human.