Flawed Language

In her story for ABC News yesterday, Susan Donaldson James describes the “mighty fall” of the soon to be former New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer, and tries to offer some explanation for his behavior (i.e. arrogance). One of her quoted sources, Mark Held, a Denver-based psychologist, sums the whole thing up – literally, because these are the very last words in the piece – by saying “It’s part of the human condition. Human beings are flawed.”

Dr. Held won’t get any argument from me on that statement. As a species, we are indeed far from perfect. However, to toss off the behavior of Mr. Spitzer and all of the other politically powerful people mentioned in this story as merely indicative of the nature of humanity is a bit much for me. Or more rightly put, it’s not quite enough.

A flaw is a blemish, a crack in one’s character. A chipped piece of glassware on the “Closeout” table. That’s flawed. The inability to keep one’s New Year’s Resolution to eat more fruits and vegetables or get more exercise. That’s a flaw. Gossip. That’s a flaw. One could say at this point that judging other people is a flaw, and in an instance like this one the temptation to judge is great. Even our inability to always tell the truth can be called a flaw, but surely there are degrees of lying and deceit that call for an entirely different adjective to describe the nature of the person who engages in such behavior. “Flaw” seems a flawed choice.

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