The most rudimentary of questions. Yet the answer escapes most of us. Try and define yourself. Not describe, define. Who are you? Stripped down to the most elemental level. Are you brave? Are you a coward? Are you brutish or sophisticated? Are you conservative or liberal? Are you religious or an atheist? Who are you?
The answer is a complex one. And I’ll wager, not one you are expecting. The answer is: I do not know. I do not know how brave I am, till I am in a situation that requires courage. At that point, will I choose to save my skin or save another’s? I think I am sophisticated, till you put me in an unfamiliar milieu, and the social shorthand fails me. Then I appear brutish, unrefined and uncouth. I think I am liberal till my daughter brings home a boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks, and all at once, every bit of my socialism flies out of the window. I think I am religious, yet I laugh at the barbaric rituals and stone gods of the ostensibly primitive.
Any of this sound familiar?
We are all complex, multi layered, multi dimensional wonders of evolution. We are all a work in progress. What I am in this moment, I will not be in the next. Nor will you. Our experiences, our joys, our sorrows contribute to our own unique signatures.
Fundamentally though, we all believe that we are good people. From the terrorist who bombs a hundred people in a square, giving up his life for a cause, to the politician who bombs a country, in pursuit of a higher good. We believe we are good. But are we?
These moral complexities are the shifting sands that govern human nature.
Who am I? The song from Les Misérables where Jean Valjean questions his moral core is perhaps the best way to end this rambling, philosophical blog post. Who am I? I am me.