Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Only A Little Wrong? Is that a Problem?

A little while back I received an e-mail requesting a fellow friend’s e-mail address, as the one just used bounced. As soon as I looked at the address, I knew what the problem was, as I had made the same mistake myself the first time I tried to e-mail these same people. You see we all tried to put an "e" in the middle of the name, when there was no "e" in the name. So knowing the problem, I promptly replied to my friend with the correction. The following is their reply.

“Aha! Isn't it funny when something is that close to being right that you don't even notice it's wrong. Thanks so much for pointing that out (and good to know I'm not the only one who has done the extra 'e'.”

As I reflected on the sentence, “Isn't it funny when something is that close to being right that you don't even notice it's wrong,” I wondered how many times I may have been wrong but not known it. Or worse, how many times I may have misled someone by being “that close to being right that you don't even notice it's wrong”.

In writing this I was reminded of a notice in the Metal Workshop at Watsonia Tech School when I was there. It said, “Near enough is not good enough, and good enough is not near enough. “ The sign was there as a reminder to take strict care in all that you do. Sloppy care to detail results in sloppy workmanship. Workmanship that often outlasts our personal presence.

The Book of James in the Bible makes a similar point in Chapter three. Verse one and two say, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes.” (NRSV)

All of the above simply highlights that we do need to be careful in all that we say and do for as verse two says, “For all of us make many mistakes”. Note it doesn’t say we make the odd mistake or two, but that we all make many mistakes.

Even though we know that we will make many mistakes, this does not justify them or release us from the responsibility of taking care that all that we say and do, is as correct as we can be expected to make it.

There are some things in life, like an incorrect e-mail address that will be picked up automatically and not go out, but most of our mistakes will go out into the world, and will be repeated by others and maybe even lead others into otherwise avoidable trouble.

So in all that we do, make sure that it is not just “close to being right” but that it is 100% right. I say that as much to myself as to you. Walter

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