27 November 2011
What is perfection? How do we go about achieving it? Is it truly attainable? In our lifetime, there are things that we all strive to be good or perfect at: school, our jobs, relationships, sports…There is something in all of our lives that we wish we were better at. There are things we may try to do to make those things better: study more, put in extra hours at the job, see a counselor, or practice harder. In Benjamin Franklin's essay "Arriving at Perfection" he sets out to devise a plan of self-examination, resulting in self-correction. Trying to achieve moral perfection, he creates a chart listing thirteen names of virtues and their precepts as a guideline for his self-examination (Franklin, 135). He HThough I believe Franklin's intentions were of good gesture, the plan he devised was flawed due to basic human nature, lack of emotion, and different interpretations of what perfection is. As humans, it is sometimes in our nature to make mistakes. Sometimes we are influenced in our decision-making by who we are as a person, our individuality or/and outside forces. I work as a 911 dispatcher here in Valdosta, Georgia. We are taught that there is no room for error. One wrong decision could cost someone their lives. However, there are days when I just feel extremely tired at work or maybe even annoyed. I might be dealing with some stressful situations that may cause me to be a little distracted at work. I am trained to answer incoming phone calls a Bristow 2
certain way, ask certain imperative questions, and to always be courteous. I might receive a call from someone who is very upset about something and therefore takes their frustration out on me. They may use profanity towards me or even hang up the phone because I am asking too many questions. I have had that situation happen to me several times and I become upset. I could have empathized with the caller and tried harder to calm them down. Instead, after hanging up the phone, I may call that person inconsiderate or have other choice words. The next caller may be someone who is in a more serious situation such as their house is on fire or they were just involved in a very serious car accident. Because I am distracted from the previous caller, I may forget to ask an imperative question like, “What intersection are you near?” In forgetting to ask this question, first responders may be sent to an incorrect location or may have difficulty finding the caller, and therefore, slow down the response time it may take to get that person help. In that scenario, I have already broken several of Franklin’s virtues: silence, resolution, sincerity, justice, and tranquility (134). I have broken the virtue of silence because I have spoken something out of anger; it was not beneficial to me or anyone else. I have broken the virtue of resolution because I failed to resolve the conflict between me and the first caller, though I understood that their frustration was not really with me. I have broken the virtue of sincerity because I did not have innocent or just feelings towards the first caller who had upset me. I have broken the virtue of justice because I have caused injury to the second caller because I had not fulfilled all of my duties. I was distracted and caused increased danger or harm to someone else. I have broken the virtue of tranquility because I allowed myself to become upset in the first place, instead of remaining calm and handling the situation in a different manner.
Franklin’s plan also lacked consideration of emotion. We are not robots. We have feelings and thoughts, and sometimes are governed by those emotions or thoughts. As a dispatcher, I work twelve hour shifts. We also work rotating shifts, switching from nights to days or days to nights, every twenty-eight days. My schedule makes it very hectic to sometimes adapt to a certain sleep schedule. It can also make me very moody and...