I love that dialogue from the movie ‘Before Sunset’.
That’s so true. It was a big realisation when I came across that. Each moment becomes a part of the experience you have had in your life. This led me to think about why a person behaves in a certain way in a certain situation. I feel that the answer is closely related to the above statement. When you are faced with a certain situation, the way you react should logically be connected to some other moment of your life, where you have either faced a similar situation yourself, or read about it somewhere or a person you know has faced a similar situation, etc. The way you react again depends on how you judged the outcome of that moment, as in, were you convinced that it was the right decision that was made. If you were not satisfied with the outcome of that past moment, then you would react differently at the present moment. The judgement of that past moment depends on your sense of right and wrong, which again has been built by several other past moments. In the case of situations that we face quite often, our reaction is pretty spontaneous and the level of thinking involved is almost nil. It is as if we do things mechanically and it has become a routine. For example, when you want to brush your teeth, you don’t think hard about what you have to do after opening the toothpaste. So, for each situation, the amount of thinking involved to perform the action differs. Going back to the question of why a person behaves in a certain way in a certain situation, there is another possibility. Let us say that the situation we are faced with is a completely new one. So, we cannot go back to any past moment. In this case, we can either consult another person or some other source before we choose to act. And we need some time to do that. So, another factor that comes into play is time. Suppose we have no time. Then comes the role of intuition and presence of mind,which can be quite unpredictable. When the time given to us is very less, sometimes, even if there exists a past moment which can guide us through the present one, we end up doing something quite different. So, as far as I can see, our actions can directly be traced back to our past moments, time involved and intuition.
Is a person wholly responsible for his/her actions? Though many claim that the answer is Yes, I prefer to think otherwise. Again we go back to the title of this post. The past moments of our lives shape our thoughts and consequently our actions. The past moments are heavily influenced by other people, the books we read and so on. In a society, it is impossible for anybody to remain isolated. How much ever we try, there is only a certain degree up to which we can achieve this. So, the point is that the influence other people have on us cannot be controlled much, especially when we are pretty young and the mind accepts any new thing that it perceives. Probably, we get the sense of right and wrong when we see more and more people and come across new ideas. Anyway, we get to see both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people and sometimes it is hard to classify the actions of anybody as right or wrong even within our domain of right and wrong. Infact, I feel that right or wrong is a relative term. It differs with each person. Yet again, we go back to the title and say, it is the influence of the moments of our lives and since they are quite different for each person, this has got to be different too. And hence, we cannot blame anyone entirely for their ‘bad’ deeds, because they have been through a different set of moments than you have. If you bring that time factor in, things change. Lot of actions that happen on the spur of the moment have unpredictable results. But still, a lot depends on how we develop the sense of right and wrong. That’s a question to ponder about. Might revisit that in another post.
P.S. : This has turned out to be something quite different from what I intended to write. And I just realised that I am interested in Human Psychology 😉