[Javert] had lost his bearings. The law was no more than a broken stick in his hand.Victor Hugo – Les Miserables
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spokenRudyard Kipling – If
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
Javert’s law is insufficient to fix his society. Even our best tools – and our bodies themselves – wear out, fail us, break.
Perfection escapes us. We’d like the important things to be done, once and for all – but things fall apart. We come undone.
We’ll probably get along better and find more patience with ourselves and others if we recognise and accept this. It might also help us to find greater faithfulness to our practices, set more store by maintenance, and find greater space for loyalty.
It’s not our job to stop things falling falling apart forever, but instead to make things a little better now: to “fill the unforgiving minute / with sixty second’s worth of distance run;” to find “the will which says to them, ‘Hold on!'”