In the past few weeks I've heard from three (very) different sources that "People don't really change all that much" over the course of a lifetime.
I'm trying to think this through. This seems right as personality is concerned. But how far does it go? And what role do habits play? And are we prey to certain habits because of our personalities? If habit forms character and habit is acquired through natural proclivities, then isn't our character and very moral fabric determined before we are even born?
Of course, I know this is the old Nature vs. Nurture debate. And I know our families and societies play a big role in habit formation as well. But could I, for example, being a generally standoffish, keep-to-myself person, recreate myself through habit, into a welcoming, engaging, warm, social-butterfly kind of person? Interestingly, in high school I was this for one year. One year in all my thirty-one. What caused my behaviour that one year? Could that change have been sustained had I not suffered personal tragedy and recoiled?
I'm trying to feel out how far habit and will can really take us.
Each time I heard this week the idea of our basic unchanging nature, I became very uncomfortable. It isn't only because I'm scared to death that I'll have to be this for the rest of my life (which I am, by the way) but also because I've found hope and a reason to live and work hard in the idea that change is possible. And because I don't know how to believe in predestination, whether social or theological. ( I am not going to argue the finer points of reformed theology here.) To me, the possibility of change is what redeems the endless cycle of monotony and meaninglessness that Ecclesiastes talks about and which I have lamented over before in this blog.
Anyway, I have to run. I'm late (something which proves change is impossible) for a thanksgiving Feast at my children's school. No time to flesh this out. But I wanted to write something down, so I can think about it more clearly and get anyone else's thoughts on the matter.