Crises and revelations

I wonder, when someone does something (whether villainous or heroic) radically out of character (according to those who know them), whether it’s the crisis which is bringing about truly out-of-character behavior, or whether it’s merely that crises (whether of one’s own making or not) have a propensity to reveal the true character (for better or worse) of some individuals. And should the answer to this question influence how we view that behavior? :ponder:

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

[spoiler]The Shadow knows…


Could be either, I suppose. But say you’ve known someone for 15 years and have always known him in a certain light. Then a catastrophe happens and he behaves (as far as you’re concerned) out of character.
Does that mean your friend actually duped you for 15 years, pulling the wool over your eyes and you were none the wiser? Or did the catastrophe cause panic and a moment of diminished responsibility? I know which I’d prefer to believe, but who really knows? Who really knows ANYONE else, when it comes down to it?

No one knows anyone. The change we see in people in due course or suddenly, is still them. A part of them. We all have demons and living in a jail cell with only them to keep us company is a scary option for most of us. The brain says flee.

I have rarely seen heroism following guilt. Children being the exception.

I personally believe that one cannot truly know a person until one has seen what level of grace and astute decision making they exhibit when under pressure.
But what do I know? The strange science of chaos always hovers near my life, so I’m a more than a bit biased.

Then you have those folks for whom crisis is a constant state. I have one friend who simply could not function if some aspect of her life wasn’t in crisis. She was brilliant when the sky was falling, but a useless mess when everything was fine. Of course, most of us aren’t like this friend.

I tend to think a little like Ginger Man on this one for the most part, but I don’t think the results are very static or predictable. I mean, depending on what’s going on in your life in general, you may respond to the same crisis heroically, or not so heroically. Part of your motivation is who you are, but part is who you are lately, or what you’ve been through recently. In other words, our everydays chang us, shape us, in subtle ways, even if we’re still who we are.

“Character is what comes out when no one is watching.”

Kind of an old axiom but the older I get the more truth I see in it.

You also might click that link at the bottom of my signature - ‘character is fate’ and read it.

[quote=“TainanCowboy”]“Character is what comes out when no one is watching.”

Kind of an old axiom but the older I get the more truth I see in it.

You also might click that link at the bottom of my signature - ‘character is fate’ and read it.[/quote]
That used to be MY signature. Well, mine was “It’s what you do when nobody’s looking that counts.” I thought it was a reference to masturbation, though. No idea it was a “deep thought.”

[quote]“And I don’t want him. No one wants him.” “No one,” she repeated in a tone of doubt. “No one,” I affirmed. . . .

“Why?” she murmured. . . . “Why?” she repeated louder; “tell me!” . . .

“Because he is not good enough,” I said brutally. . . .

'“This is the very thing he said. . . . You lie!” . . .

“Hear me out!” I entreated. . . . “Nobody, nobody is good enough.” . . .[/quote]–Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

[quote]Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?[/quote]–Matthew 26:20-22

A third possibility: the catastrophe caused panic, but a person is still fully responsible for their actions.

[quote=“TainanCowboy”]“Character is what comes out when no one is watching.”

Kind of an old axiom but the older I get the more truth I see in it.[/quote]

I tend to agree with this.

When I posted this topic, I was not only thinking about a recent hit-and-run case; I was also thinking about all the relatives and friends sitting in courts as character witnesses, swearing up and down to judges that a defendant wasn’t the type to do such a thing, as well as thinking about people who surprise us with their heroism, whether real or in fiction, like when Forrest Gump carried his fellow soldiers one by one to safety despite great personal risk. When a crisis precipitates heroic action, we don’t hesitate to laud the person and their character, rather than ascribing causality to the crisis. Why then would we reach for crisis as an excuse for behavior when the actions are morally culpable?

This makes sense to me. I think we may know part of them, but not all. And the same probably applies to ourselves.

A person’s essential character does not change, I believe. A person may act umpredictably in times of extreme stress, but after the crisis has passed, he/she will etither ‘fess up’ to the inappropriate action (if it were such) and atone, or prove to one and all that they were or weren’t what they were portraying.

A good read TC! Thanks.

Been chewing this awhile. Grace and astute decision making come when there is no option of going haywire and washing one’s hands off the decision. In all my difficult times, where I maintained the said grace, was because the alternate was of no use. If there was an option, where I could release my wrath, pain or even just walk away from the situation, I took it. Does that make me of weak character? Perhaps…