What can change the nature of a man
? The thought reverberates through and through my skull.
Sometimes I think there are only good men
and bad men
. The good men are those who try to make man greater than he was before. The bad are everyone else. (I am a bad man)
What can change the nature of a man? How may a man go from bad
? How may a man stop being a fool
, a dog
, a coward
, and cast off the wretched nets that hold him back? How may a man get out of the rut
so many are stuck in, drag himself out of the chasm, and become new, better, and greater?
There is a long tradition of characters who have struggled to reinvent themselves. Dr. Faustus
grew weary of the study of divinity, and turned to the black arts
so that he might gain power
and change the world
. Benjamin of Graduate
fame thought he could escape his parents, toss off the monotony
, and make something new. Stephen Dedalus
shed perceived traps like religion
, and country
, thinking he could remake himself into a true artist
. But reinvention does not come so easy.
It takes more than that to change the nature of a man. Quick, dramatic change is both tempting and likely ineffectual. Those "nets" these people were casting off were a part of them
. Those "traps" they so struggled to elude were what made them and their aspirations. The old cannot be so easily jettisoned. The new cannot be so quickly embraced. A spark, a chunk, a portion of their old world will simply splinter off and cut at them no matter what they do. One cannot simply cast off the old without thought or conscent of others. One cannot simply dive headlong into the unknown
with the hopes of reinvention, for, when presented with the new, one will inevitably revert to the old in order to understand and interact with it.
What can change the nature of a man? Blood. Sweat. Tears. Time. Aspiration. Experience. I think--I pray--they are enough, and may we all have enough tears for salvation.