When it comes to our stories, there might not be a more important question than this.
Are you, as they say, your mother’s daughter? Your father’s son?
Are you the apple that didn’t fall far from the tree?
So much hinges upon our answers to these questions. So much depends on the ways our identities are formed. Thus, it seems that we’d better ask…
What makes you you?
Building on what seems to be a recent theme, the question could also be asked like this:
Is our identity determined by the way the world is or by the way the world should be?
Going back a few weeks, we’ve already seen that societies have long recognized this distinction, and constructed this thing called culture to work towards the latter.
Cicero, if you recall, defined culture as the cultivation of the soul.
The whole idea is that the way we act, when operating solely based on instinct, isn’t good. To see evidence of this, you need only spend some time observing a handful of toddlers while they play together. Try, if you dare, and count the number of times they need to be reminded to share, to not hit, to wait their turn.
Compare those reminders with the number of times they need to be reminded to cry when they’re hurt, to bite when they’re angry, to take what they think is theirs.
We don’t need reminding for these.
Our instincts provide all the instruction necessary.
The Question Only We Can Answer
Perhaps the reason we struggle so much to ‘answer’ the nature-nurture question is that the answer is up to us.
If who you are is different from who you were when you were born, and if both of these are different from who you could, or should, be, then perhaps the choice is ours to make.
Or, at least, ours to make if we want to.
All of which leads us back to the place where we started… back to the simple question:
What makes you you?
*Photo Credit: Patrick (Creative Commons)
This week’s topic (also known as the Weekly Curiosity) is heredity. Check back each weekday at 12:34pm for a new post exploring this idea. In the meantime, here are three ways you can join the quest: