Brokenness and Being Human

We watched The Ides of March today and the thought that I came away with was that, until we accept the fundamental ‘brokenness’ of each and every individual, we condemn ourselves  to a downward spiral of cynicism and disillusion and to the machinations of the most damaged and controlling among us.

In every child’s growth to adulthood, at some point they have to face the reality that their parents are less than perfect, often contradictory and that they do not have all the answers. Hopefully, most children move beyond this into a changed but still loving relationship. Why, then, do we seem increasingly to expect our authority figures, our leaders, to be any less flawed than the rest of us?

Only through the acceptance of brokenness can we embrace and honour the best of what it is to be human. Integrity and the power for good are not cancelled out by imperfection. By holding those in high office to impossible standards, we allow their humanity to be used against them; either we reject them for their ‘weakness’ or their integrity is compromised in the attempt not to expose that ‘weakness’ and they are left open to manipulation.

Thus our unrealistic requirement for ‘perfection’ becomes the basis of ‘corruption’ and there is no longer room in the world for ‘great’ human beings.

Brokenness and Compassion

Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue. (EUGENE O’NEILL, The Great God Brown)


When someone quoted this to me during a phone conversation, it resonated.  On reflection, my own perception is that it is that very brokenness that graces us with humanity.

It is our brokenness that both requires and makes possible compassion, one of the most beautiful aspects of the human soul.

Only in acknowledging and accepting our own brokenness, whilst always engaging in that process of ‘mending’, can we develop compassion for ourselves.

Only in finding compassion towards ourselves can we truly stop blaming and become fully compassionate towards others.

To engage in that process of ‘mending’, I think there needs to be at the very least some awareness of and sense of connection to a life force, a cohesive energy within the universe, ‘God’.