Should we expect those people we have memorialized to be perfect?
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)
The Bible states that God is perfect, and given that He created men and women in his image, it follows that humans must be perfect too.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
That was, of course, until that man and woman exercised free will, giving them agency, and with that, the ability to take the sinful course. Their first exercise of free will was eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was an act of disobedience to God’s command.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6)
“And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’” (Genesis 3:11)
“The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” (Genesis 3:12-13)
It was also the first recorded act of finger pointing.
So, while we were once “perfect”, we no longer are. As such, we must recognize our imperfections and in doing so, be understanding that all people are imperfect; it is something we all share. Quoting Jesus, the Bible records:
“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’” — John 8:7
The recognition that we all share imperfection forms a basis of empathy, a common understanding of how things might go wrong. While recognising there are boundaries to what is acceptable, we are in a position to accept, that regardless of the stature, the memorialized too can have foibles.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13: )
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2: )
While there was some controversy with Dundas’ motion to take a gradual implementation of the abolition of the slave trade, it was clearly was not seen as a disqualifying act when naming the street. The question is should it be now? Do we accept the foibles of the man or do we throw the stone?