Over the past few days, I’ve begun to notice something about myself. When I watch movies or TV shows, I find myself drawn to the characters who display honesty and transparency. They are often my favourite characters. Locke (in the first half of the series) from Lost. Abed from Community. Gale (in his minor role) in Breaking Bad. Kenneth from 30 Rock. Peter and Hiro from Heroes. These people are not all perfect characters, nor are they always the brightest. But there is some charming simplicity in their actions that draws me toward them. In real life, my closest friends are also ones that display this honesty. I find myself drawn to these people because of the value that I place on honesty.
Obviously, there is nothing taboo about valuing honesty. As the old adage says, “Honesty is the best policy.” But I am drawn to a type of honesty that goes beyond simply not telling lies. It has its roots in something more integral to the self. It is not quite “authenticity”, for that implies being one’s “true self,” whatever that means. The honesty I look for has more to do with a simple sincerity of heart: a degree of integrity. It involves defining one’s purposes and making them plain to everyone. It involves finding one’s identities and being true to them. It is akin to the existentialists’ idea of “good faith,” living a life without self-deception.Continue Reading
Personal change and growth generally happens slowly. One’s political beliefs may shift over one’s lifetime, or a commitment to health and fitness may slowly be fostered. But generally these changes happen over a length of time, and in relative isolation from other changes.
Every once in a while, however, some belief that is fundamental to your worldview gets torn away. Like pulling out the bottom card in a house of cards, the rest comes tumbling down and must be rebuilt. Suddenly, change is thrust upon you, and you must deal with it. It’s at times like these that life gives you a reset button. All of a sudden, you have a fresh start to define who you are. You have a new chance to redefine yourself and cast yourself in a new light.Continue Reading
I’ve been engaging in a little bit of introspection regarding self-identity this week. It sprung up from several conversations with a friend of mine, mixed with some comments from the book I’m currently reading, The Feminine Mystique (amazon.ca) by Betty Friedan. These sources sparked thoughts about the way in which people perceive themselves, and how that affects their own direction in life.
Friedan discusses at one point how women in the 1960s were generally identified by who they were rather than what they did. While men were defined by their achievements: their profession, their skills, their victories and defeats; women were instead defined by their anatomy: their ability to become mothers. In other words, women were fulfilling their role by just existing long enough to become pregnant. I don’t think I’m qualified to discuss how such attitudes have changed since the time of Friedan’s writing—I expect that we’ve likely made some progress toward equality in this area, but there is likely still more to be done—but I would like to extend this toward a slightly broader perspective.Continue Reading