Pronunciation Guide

Saturday, June 28, 2014

“N” is for nachos. …No, not really.

It is for nature vs. nurture.

I haven’t done extensive research, but I know the basics. One side says that genetics determine who you are; the other side says it’s how you are raised/what you experience.

Most of my character creation comes down to life experiences and environment. Some things are “inherited” – prejudices, tempers, weaknesses, bitterness, fears, brokenness, etc. – but even in that, I don’t believe it is genetic so much as experiential. Where did those “genetic” personality traits begin? Even if it is a genetic thing, what made that trait take precedence over other traits so that it, above other options, ended up being passed on? Would it have been passed on if it hadn’t been acted upon? A certain character may have “inherited” a quick temper from his father – but where did the father get it? From his parent? And even if he did, where did that parent get it? Is the quick temper truly a genetic thing – or is it a learned behavioral pattern established through years of being around someone with a quick temper? Or does it stem from a wound – unhealed hurts, unanswered questions?

It kind of gets crazy.

Children learn what they live. Or do they?

It believe it all comes into play – inherited personality traits and genetics, as well as experiences, desires, needs, fears, wounds. And, honestly, probably more so the emotional-type things. A personality begins to take form at a young age – but is it truly us? Or something imposed upon us?

My main girls – Rab and Ari – are half-sisters; they have the same mother but different fathers (though they don’t know this until way later). They grow up in the same home, with the same mother, but they do not grow up with the same personalities. Why? There is something to be said for each girl’s inherent personality. But it is largely because of their experiences in that home and with their mother. (As well as other people in their lives.)

Where naturally sweet-natured Ari is the target of their mother’s abuse, naturally feisty Rab is the one who stands between to protect her sister. Ari learns that those in authority must be obeyed or there will be suffering; Rab learns that those in authority can be wrong and should be opposed. Ari’s natural desire to keep the peace drives her; Rab’s natural aversion to injustice intensifies each time their mother lashes out. Ari learns to be quiet and keep her eyes down; Rab learns to look confrontation in the eye and speak out. While this doesn’t work well for either of them, it is how life is. It is all they know.

Then things change.

Ari is thrust into a world where she will either adapt or die. Rab is ripped from everything she loves and must forge a new identity for herself. The naturally strong one must learn to find true strength in herself apart from what made her strong before. The naturally timid one must learn she has strength – more than she’s ever known. Some things about them will remain the same. But other things will change, and change drastically.

Ultimately, I believe it comes down to this: free will. The gift of choice, the ability to change. We are who we choose to be. Yes, sometimes the “nurture” one receives must be overcome – but it can be overcome. Certain genetic things cannot be changed, but you can change how you view them, and you can change how you live in response to them.

I believe people were created good. I believe everyone was created with a purpose specific to them. Then darkness crept in – a darkness that corrupts, poisons, and ultimately destroys. But the original design is still there. That original design is intrinsic, goes far deeper than any personality trait your family has had for generations. Maybe it’s buried under years of horror, pain, and anger – but it is there.

And it can burst free.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I have two sisters in law that are as different as night and day. One is calm, mature, gentle, and terrified of accidentally giving offense. The other is spunky, overly dramatic, says what she thinks, and a complete fire-cracker. It's always interesting to think that they came from the same parents, only a few years apart. ;)