Many years ago I was participating in an art show where I ran into a fellow artist who I had known and admired for a long time. He works in clay. His work is finely crafted. It is impeccable. It is of a refined quality. I asked him how he was doing at the show. He said that he had almost sold one of his pieces but said that the couple that were looking at it had found a flaw. I asked him to point out the piece and I walked over to it and gave it a thorough examination. All I could see was seemingly endless things that were right about it so I asked him to point out where the flaw was. He pointed to an area on the piece where the glaze was a slightly different color than the rest of the piece. I work in clay along with a number of other mediums so I am familiar with the technique and the process. What the people who were looking at this piece called a flaw was really just a natural occurring result of being fired in a kiln. It was perhaps an imperfection but it was not a flaw.
Over the years I have observed people looking at my work and I can see almost immediately when someone who is looking at my work is looking to find something wrong with it. I have never done anything that was perfect. Everything I have created has flaws. If flaws are what you are looking for you will find them.
In the beginning of President Obama's first term in office I noticed when I was reading both articles and comments about the President that people would say, "I like the President but ---". Or "I like the President's policy but ---". This always made me cringe so I asked myself why this bothered me so much. I know the President and his policies are not perfect so why do I find this criticism so disturbing?
Since President Obama first began his run for the presidency it was obvious that the single purpose of the right was to completely destroy him and his legacy. To anyone who is paying attention this is clearly what the intention of the right has been. What has been a little more subtle is that there are many on the left who have spent all their time looking for flaws. It seems as if their intention was to pick at him to death. It feels to me to be barbaric.
Early on in my life as an artist after I would complete a piece of work it seemed that all I could see were endless numbers of flaws. This caused me to feel depressed and paralyzed. Over time I came to understand that this way of perceiving myself was destructive. It was better to look at my work through the eyes of seeing what need to be improved upon and to accomplish this by focusing on and nurturing what was of value in what I had produced instead of being fixated on what I perceived to be wrong. I can't do perfect and I don't understand that to be my purpose. I understand my purpose to be to move in the direction of perfection. I understand our purpose as Americans is to move in the direction of a more perfect Union and I understand our purpose as human beings as a group is to move in the direction of a greater humaneness.
President Obama is not perfect. He is as my friend's piece of art of a refined quality. As my friend's art he has seeming endless things that are right, good and of profound value about him. In his SOTU address President Obama stated very clearly that he is aware that neither he or his policies are perfect. It's not the point. The point is to construct something of value and to nurture and improve upon it. This will not happen if we approach progress and ideas from the perspective of tearing it apart and ripping it to pieces which only serves the purpose of destruction. Progress has to be nurtured. It's not constructive to beat things over the head with a hammer.
President Obama has been imploring us to grow up and to shed the unproductive ways of the past. In doing so he has done a tremendous service in helping to clarify who wants to behave in responsible adult-like behavior and who wants to cling to the unproductive and destructive ways of the past. If you observe President Obama you can see that he is a bit of a gambler but he is a responsible gambler in that he assess the potentials that exist and he puts his money where we need to go out of the necessity to evolve and he puts his money on what he sees to be the intrinsic goodness that is within us which he has been assisting to nurture and grow. It is on us as to whether we want to continue to pick at flaws or nurture progress.