Monday, January 05, 2009

On people and change

People are a complicated lot. I dont think many people know themselves too well. I dont mean the word "themselves" in a spiritual connotation of self-realization or such higher meaning. I am only referring to people knowing themselves like they know other people, or in fact, like their family or friends know them.

The key point is that people are constantly defining and redifining themselves, both consciously and unconsciously. As a result of all the experiences and our cogitations and reflections on these experiences within the environments we find ourselves in, we develop a system of understanding of the world around us - and that includes ourselves. As a result of the continuous reconciliation between who we think we are, what we think we want and who we think we want to be, we are actually an amorphous mass of shifting core values, with numerous blobs of inconsistencies and contradictions, rather than a well-defined, solid individual that we may perceive or project ourselves to be. Now this is perhaps, an overly complicated way of saying that people change - that seems obvious enough - but also that people change in ways that they dont quite understand well.

Critically then, the point to be made here is that people do not fully appreciate who they are - in totality. But, people do realize that they change. We see our faces, our voices, our bodies change, but also our dreams, ambitions, jobs, fears, convictions, passions, friendships and relationships - they all change. While one may realize that he wants to pursue a career in music now, instead of a childhood dream in journalism, he perhaps doesnt realize the extent to which this change affects him in other ways, such as his fears or friendships. They are too intertwined interally, for his intelligence to be fully aware of it, until it becomes apparent later. As a result, there is this gap that exists between who we really are, and who we think we are. When we talk about ourselves to others, based on who we think we are, we probably come close to describing several facets of our personality and our changes, but that does not describe who we are, and this is likely different from what others think we are, and how we have changed.

While this may not be understood or even relevant in people's everyday dealings, many emotional and inter-personal issues result as a consequence of this gap in communication. This may even help in explanining difficult human characteristics such as hypocrisy or betrayal.

Does God want?

The general religious view seems to be that man is imperfect and it is this imperfection that prevents us from realizing God. In fact, it is said that we cannot even understand Him fully or to any reasonable degree, due to the inherent nature of God being within and without everything - omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. Granted that religion is just a human explanation for divine power in our lives; still some concepts are hard to fathom, such as:

God wants to make us tougher and wiser by sending adversities our way. Which begs the question, firstly, does God want anything? The ideal of accepting everything God gives us, and surrendering to Him is very powerful and liberating. But then, doesnt the idea that God has a plan or pasttimes and wishes something paint God as less than perfect or human-like, even if as a Father? Even though God is perfectly capable of realizing His wants, does not the fact of wanting, wishing or desiring something run contrary to the idealization of the absolute, all-perfect God?

On hindsight, may be the key point is this: When we as humans want something, it is usually outside of us. But there is nothing outside of God, by definition. If God wants something, which is inside Him, it is not really a want, but merely a choice. And so, as we humans accept His plans, we must do so with the humility that we cannot even begin to know His ways, and so, to say God sends us adversities in order to make us tougher and wiser is unduly arrogant.