After the dreadful events at Newtown I have been catching glimpses of conversations on line and on air and I was particularly struck by something Joe Scarbough (a guy I really respect) said. I’m not sure he was the first to every say it but credit where credit is due. He said:
“We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
His point was that we often kill good ideas by pointing out they are not perfect. I realized then that this is a problem that regularly occurs in the motorcycle world. Yes, motorcycling is connected to everything and this is a connection to where the burning desire to create increased safety gets attacked from the inside and outside.
Take mandated helmet laws, as soon as you offer up that idea you hear things like: “Yeah, but what about horsepower? That does nothing about 18 year olds and 150 horse power bikes!” From rider’s rights folks, essentially saying “It’s not perfect!” Then if you pay attention you’ll hear someone on the safety side start in with something like, “But that does nothing to address rider training! We need better riders!” Which, if you really listen, is both sides saying “It’s not perfect…so let’s not do it.”
Perfect becomes a tool to defeat good and when wielded by both sides it’s a surprisingly effective weapon.
The reason this sticks with me is because I’ve had so many conversations with people where I state my desire to get the little victories like someone who won’t wear a helmet to start wearing gloves and get immediate feedback of “That won’t save their head!”
I am stunningly aware of that. However my goal isn’t to solve the entire problem in one fell swoop! My goal is to effect change the way it happens naturally, by increments, bits and pieces. Gloves lead to a place where tennis shoes can become over the ankle boots, then boots become a jacket and a jacket becomes some training and training becomes a helmet and a helmet becomes…well, whatever that final goal is called. Probably an “accomplished rider”.
“It’s not perfect” can kill that evolution. Perfect is the kryponite of good because it’s a tool you can use to defeat any proposition at all. Whether you’re curing cancer or cutting costs there’s never a perfect answer which can drive good into the dirt. Whatever happened to “a good start”. Did it die? Oh, wait, “It’s not perfect” killed it. We seem to seek a panacea or some kind of silver bullet and if we can’t find it we let “it’s not perfect” smother a good idea before it can take a breath.
Should every motorcyclist be trained, wear proper gear and be strikingly aware of their surrounding? What a knuckleheaded question, of course they should. Is there any one thing that can make that happen in 20 minutes? I don’t think so. However, over the course of getting used to full fingered gloves and then enjoying their comfort it becomes easier to make an upgrade to boots and then a jacket and then…well who knows?
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good–take what you can get and build on it.