by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
"Character is power." Booker T. Washington
Yesterday a Marine friend (pardon the redundancy) forwarded a news story link about Paula Broadwell - the "mistress" of General David Petraeus - that recently appeared in the Charlotte Observer.
With the General back in the news because of legal troubles, the article focused on what descriptor to label Mrs. Broadwell. She, a resident of Charlotte, NC, does not like "mistress" and has contacted the paper asking for less sexist treatment.
So the author, Mr. Peter St. Onge, took up the challenge in his piece titled 'Paula Broadwell, in one word.' Readers offered snarky comment - some were one word suggestions and some not.
My friend's email subject line read: Love the closing paragraph about 140 characters
I read the article.
It was the closing sentence, exactly 56 characters, that caught my attention.
In fact, it was characters 19 through 27, the nine letter word imperfect, that I loved.
Because the same friend earlier in the day suggested writing a commentary contrasting speeches - Lincoln at Gettysburg and Obama (fancying himself a Lincoln) in Cairo.
I am thinking about it.
The word imperfect seemed, well, perfect.
President Lincoln did not see himself a perfect man. But his succinct (akin to a tweet) remarks at Gettysburg were perfect. And our country saved.
President Obama (as do others) sees himself a perfect man. But his windy remarks in Cairo were imperfect. And the Middle East (world actually) collapses (still it falls apart).
Public opinion of President Lincoln: perfect (these days, anyway)
Public opinion of President Obama: imperfect
President Obama opinion of President Obama: i'mperfect
That is, a character making an imperfect character perfect.
The 56 closing characters (including spaces) of the Charlotte Observer article: Because words are imperfect, you know, just like we are.
Yes, even President Obama.
Booker T. Washington got it exactly right. And with more meaning than he surely intended. Perfect.
In brevity there is (perfect) beauty.