Oh, how Jamaicans love this word! To be excellent is to be better than the best. We all strive for it with all our might. Or we are supposed to, anyway.
We have schools, health care centers, even churches of excellence, but the word most often applies to individuals. We give out many awards for excellence, as if there is some yardstick or measure.
Who could be more excellent than our National Heroes? They are called “The Rt Excellent.” The motto of the Order is “He built a city which hath foundations.” (Not “she” – but Nanny..?)
Did you know there is an Order of Excellence, conferred on foreign heads of state? Only two have received it: former South African President Thabo Mbeki (2003) and King Juan Carlos of Spain (2009). Personally, I would have preferred Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama; but I guess it’s too late now.
What makes a person “excellent,” really? Here’s the famous quote by dear old Aristotle – which, while absolutely true, does makes excellence sound rather dull. Yet, perhaps it’s a habit more of us should acquire.
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”