7 Character is fate
Or, to put it another way, it’s who you are that determines what you will become, not external circumstances. And Heraclitus is obviously wrong, if we take the statement as an attempt to describe the truth of every human life, all the time. The pandemic has taught those of us who thought we were completely in control that we’re really not – and a lot of us knew all too well that the power in our lives was not our own. The coronavirus pandemic for many of us has just added yet another thing pushing in on us, making our lives more and more difficult.
We aren’t, and we aren’t designed to be, completely independent individuals, creating ourselves without reference to anyone else. But we all do have our own character, and our life’s task is to find out how to live that character as best we can. It’s not fixed forever, which is a great relief when we see things in ourselves of which we’re not at all proud. Over the last few months some of us will have found ourselves acting in ways of which we are ashamed (I wonder how those people whose fist fight over the last pack of toilet roll went viral are feeling about that now?). But that’s not the last word: we can move on, we can change, and sometimes having weaknesses exposed is a painful way of finding out where we need to go next.
Character may be fate, but both of them can change, because we can change. It’s in our humanity to have the potential to reach out towards the best selves we can be.
Fragments on Fragments are written by the Right Reverend Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon in the Church of England. He introduces the whole series here. Alongside the words is an image by Alison Clark of a broken sand dollar, gilded in reference to the Japanese practice of kintsugi: you can find more of her work here.