It is nothing new if I say no one is perfect. There is no ideal executive, no ideal spouse, no ideal parent.  Not even an ideal child.

If someone appears to be ideal, perfect, we should not hold our breath. With time, as the situation changes, some deficiencies will emerge. The weaknesses will show up because no one is perfect, ideal, in all situations forever.

If the above is true, it follows that if someone exhibits perfect values, he or she still must have sinned sometime in the past; or will in the future. Or at least on one occasion was tempted into thoughts of sinning.

With the same argument, I would say no one is a complete devil either. Hitler must have had his moments of tenderness, of being human. Watch him caress children’s faces. Granted only Aryan faces, but nevertheless he shows emotion. Love. Respect.

Cruel murderers, I would guess, are tender to their dog.

Since no one is a perfect devil or a perfect angel, we are all angels AND devils, each of us with a different ratio of the two characteristics. Even an angel can become a devil if you step on his most sensitive toe. And the devil can change his skin and become angelic under certain conditions.

How did this combination of angel/devil develop in all of us?

I think that we are created as a mirror of someone else. Thus, if I am, say, 80 percent devil and 20 percent angel, there must have been someone in my life, one or more people, who were 80 percent devil and 20 percent angel. My mirror image.

It is like die-casting. Who “die-casts” us is a person who has had a major impact on our life. For example, a parent we have depended on emotionally and economically for survival; or a teacher, a classmate, a supervisor at work. They have all in different ways “die-cast” us.

In analyzing myself, who I am, I realize I was die-cast by my father — I did not want to be like him; by a teacher — I definitely wanted to be like him; and by a bullying classmate — who came close to making me want to die.

The challenge all of us have, I think, is to control the devil in ourselves. And since the devil and the angel are mirroring each other, we need to find ways to control the angel within us too. A pure angel is too trusting, too naïve. It can make mistakes. You need the devil to come and check reality, to respect but at the same time to suspect1 and thus protect you from the devilish quality your counterpart is exhibiting at the time.

And when we are confronted with the devil’s qualities in another person — if the arguments I constructed hold water — we should look as well for the angel in the other person. There is goodness in all people. Cultivate it. Do not condemn the devil. Bless the angel. What is so bad in the other person we may possess too.

So who are we to judge?

Just thinking.

Ichak Kalderon Adizes

 


1Respect and suspect “kabdehu ve hashdehu” is an instruction an ancient Jewish sage has given. Respect everyone but at the same time, in negotiations, watch for their self-interest.