Saturday, May 16, 2009

Who or What Determines, Shapes and Changes Our Character?

"We are each the authors of our own lives...
there is no way to shift the blame,
and no one else to accept the accolades."

- Paul McGill (in A Woman of Substance)


Late last year, I watched the movie Pathology. It is a sick thriller in which a group of residents studying pathology devise a lively game: to see which one of them can commit the perfect square murder.

In the movie, Teddy Grey graduates top of his class and joins one of the nation’s most prestigious Pathology programs. On joining a group of elite pathology interns, he begins to uncover secrets he never expected and finds that he has unknowingly become a pawn in their dangerous and secret after-hours game at the morgue of who can commit the perfect undetectable murder.

This is in line with his earlier assertion that human beings are inherently evil, that people are animals who can kill anyone.

Environmental Effects on Character

A fortnight before this, one of my favorite bloggers had written about change. Savvy's question was,
"Who says campus does not corrupt?"
She wrote, "Last year, I used to be up by five almost every morning. This year, I’d be lucky if I can drag myself out of bed before 7am. Obviously, I barely make it for early morning classes.

"Last year, I would have been shocked if I heard stories of students who (smoke) weed, have unprotected sex, get pregnant, abort, use morning after pills on a daily basis and not give a thought to HIV. This year, it doesn’t surprise me anymore." [read more...]

Lost in Character

My favorite TV show LOST, explores this within its mythology. The character and beliefs of John Locke (English philosopher and thinker) are alluded to both in name and character by John Locke. John Locke believed that the mind was a "blank slate" or "tabula rasa".

Essentially, Locke postulated and maintained that people are born without innate ideas - that human beings are born with no built-in mental content, in a word, "blank", and that their entire resource of knowledge is built up gradually from their experiences and sensory perceptions of the outside world.

The Chicken, The Egg and Responsibility

Looking at another source of insight, Ngishili writes on The Chicken, the Egg, and Responsibility. It so happens that in a typical farm,
"each chicken has a specific character that distinguishes it from all the others in the farm. One of those chicken characteristics has to do with the ability to reproduce successfully. The farmer will tell you that some chicken exhibit much responsibility towards the task of parenting while others are extremely careless." "As you can see, the story of responsibility is as old as the story of the chicken and the egg. Whether at your place of work, in personal relationships, in a family or even in a community, life favors always go to the most responsible person."

In life however, we see that many people seek freedom while trying to avoid responsibility. This is wrong, since freedom is responsibility. When you're free, you're automatically responsible for your own future. And the things your freedom lets you do become a manifestation of your character.

Bottom Line

So who or what determines, shapes and even changes character? Is it those we interact with? Is it fate? Do we get to choose to be good or bad, or are we inherently evil?

Now it the time to take a good look at your friends, circumstances, environment and the company you keep. Carefully consider whatever influences you.
Once you identify who or what shapes your character, do the needful and effect the necessary changes.

Let us learn, share and progress together.


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