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The definitive host: Perfection Isn't Perfect

The definitive host

de·fin·i·tive host (duh-fin'eh-tiv) n. 1) An organism where a parasite undergoes the adult and sexual stages of its reproductive cycle 2) Someone you go to for interesting stories and/or facts, and puts on one hell of a dinner party 3) This blog, devoted to science and other geeky subjects

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Perfection Isn't Perfect

We may make jokes that we are the perfect versions of ourselves, but realistically, who can say that? I’m a good person and friend, and yet mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes are how we learn and grow into better people.

You may know not to touch the red-hot coils on an electric stove, and have been told not to repeatedly by your parents, siblings and friends. But, you may not remember the lessons until you accidentally do just that. The pain is what you will remember, not the warnings. And even then, you will still use that stove, and the moment you forget that painful lesson, you get burned.

After all, everyone needs a reminder now and then, even those we place on a pedestal, even superheroes that are considered the best of the best. Of course, I am talking about Steve Rogers, who is also known as Captain America.

For those unfamiliar with the comic book lore, Steve Rogers was a young man who wanted nothing more than to be in the army during World War II. But, he was too small for his age, weak and sickly looking. The army disregarded him, despite his pleas.

That was, until he got the opportunity to enroll in a program entitled Operation: Rebirth, designed to help soldiers reach peak physical perfection. He was the first candidate to receive the treatment under the supervision of Professor Abraham Erksine, and the last, as Nazis killed Erksine and destroyed all his research shortly after Rogers received the treatment.

But, the “Super Soldier Serum” had already worked its magic on young Rogers. He became taller, possessed enhanced musculature and reflexes, and became the symbol for the war effort. He became Captain America.

Captain America, or “Cap,” rapidly became known throughout the world as an amazing hero and patriot. His iconic costume was based on his own design, modeled after the American flag, and his trademark shield was made of an indestructible alloy that he can toss like a Frisbee. He fought his nemesis the Red Skull numerous times, as well as other villains, including an infamous cover of him punching Hitler in the jaw.

But, throughout all of that, one thing stayed the same in the Marvel comic universe. Even when surrounded by other superheroes with fantastic skills and abilities, the writers kept Rogers a man. He was an extraordinary man with skills superior to that of any Olympic athlete, of course, but still a mortal man with limits.

But what is perfection?

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as the quality or state of being perfect or an exemplification of supreme excellence. But what is excellence?

To me, the key thing to note is that, like beauty, perfection is in the eye of the beholder. The attributes you ascribe to your “perfect” self are different than mine, which are different than those of the Emperor of Japan.

Just remember that nobody is perfect, and if someone says they are, they are lying. In fact, if anyone calls you “less than perfect,” take it as a compliment. If everyone was perfect, there would be nothing to strive for!

The upcoming Marvel film appears to address that head-on, by painting Rogers (played by Chris Evans) as a man with something to prove, not just to himself, but everyone around him. The trailer, embedded below, has a very poignant quote said by Dr. Erksine on why Rogers was chosen for the program: “Because a weak man knows the value of strength."

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